It seems like everybody has that same idea in their head about what the future looks like, and how tasks will be done. It’s all robots and computer screens, digitally cementing our scientific progress. I mean, we’re finally to the point where the old steel Wrigley Field scoreboard is getting supplemented with a gigantic LED display. But they’re not getting rid of the old and the faithful, because sometimes the traditional ways are just as effective. I don’t know that total knee arthroplasty (TKA) counts as a “traditional” act, but that’s what we’re talking about.
For a study published in Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, a group of Korean researchers have been keeping annual tabs on over 500 osteoarthritis patients. 452 women and 68 men all underwent TKA surgeries, where one knee was treated conventionally, while the other was navigated by computer, which assists in positioning, sizing, and alignment, among other things.
The patients were assessed before surgery, again after three months, and again at one year, with future follow-ups coming annually after that. The assessments came via the Knee Society rating system and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), and using X-rays and CT scans.
The results: No statistically significant difference between the different treatments, in reference to knee function, motion, pain, and activity. The rating scores from Knee Society and WOMAC were also comparable.
You may be wondering why I’m even bothering to write this story. To me, it’s an example of a lack of news being as interesting, if not more so, than what that news would have been. Had we been told a computer was a more successful TKA navigator, it would be accepted with a slight, understanding nod. But it’s always good to hear about a case where a human isn’t bested by a machine. You hear that, John Connor?