Smit & Nephew and URS Ortho integrate knee software into CASPAR robot for orthopaedic surgery

Memphis 15 November 2001Smith & Nephew, a medical device manufacturer, has signed an orthopaedics agreement with the German company URS Ortho GMBH & Co. KG to develop software which will allow surgeons to use computer-assisted surgical planning and robotics (CASPAR) technology when implanting Smith & Nephew knee systems. Under the agreement with Universal Robot Systems (URS) Ortho, the company will develop software that allows CASPAR to prepare bone for the various knee replacement components.


CASPAR is one of two active robotics surgery systems widely distributed and used in knee and hip replacement surgery. The technology helps the surgeon plan and perform a more precise surgery.

"We are excited to be associated with such innovative medical technology, and we are committed to bringing these emerging technologies to the global orthopaedic community", stated Smith & Nephew Orthopaedics President Larry Papasan. "Affiliation with an active robotics technology will clearly help us penetrate the German market in particular, and it fits nicely into our overall computer-assisted surgery strategy."

The technology uses Computed Tomography (CT) scan images to calculate three-dimensional image information regarding the patient's joint. The surgery can then be performed virtually on a computer screen, allowing for careful pre-operative planning. Subsequently, the plan is saved to a chip, which is transferred to the surgical robot.

"The robot does not replace the surgeon", explained Mr. Papasan. "Rather, those surgeons using CASPAR can now perform knee replacement surgery using our products with even greater precision." About 50 CASPAR units are installed within hospitals and clinics in Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy. Smith & Nephew already offers a hip system called Spartacus that can also be implanted using this technology.

"CASPAR enacts these instructions with a precision not possible by the human hand in the operating room", stated URS Chief Executive Marketing and Sales Klaus Wemhoff. "Exact planning and precise operation during robotic surgery ensures that the prosthesis will perfectly match the worn-out knee cartilage it is replacing."

Smith & Nephew is committed to becoming an expert provider for computer-assisted orthopaedic applications. The foundation of this strategy is its collaboration with Medtronic SNT in the area of navigation, or image-guided surgery. Consistent with this portion of its strategy, Smith & Nephew recently tested prototype orthopaedic knee software using Medtronic's iON image-guided system in Germany and Belgium with great success. The surgeons who utilised this technology benefited from reduced exposure to radiation and significantly improved positioning of the implants.

Smith & Nephew develops, manufactures and markets a wide range of clinically advanced tissue repair products, primarily in the areas of orthopaedics, endoscopy, wound management, and rehabilitation. In particular, the company focuses on clinically proven and innovative technologies that will benefit the health care system by improving patient care, reducing health care costs, as well as educating and training health care professionals.

URS Ortho is a subsidiary of URS Holding GMBH in Schwerin, Germany. The company was founded in 1998 as a spin-off of the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart, Germany. Development and engineering in surgical navigation technology is provided through strong co-operation with the CAS innovations AG, in Erlangen, Germany. The company's products offer robotic and navigation technology that allows surgeons to optimise planning and interoperative surgical results by robot or navigation technologies in order to optimise patient safety during surgical procedures.

More information on the CASPAR robotics surgery system is available in the VMW October 2000 article CASPAR robot to replace knee joints without effort at Pellenberg Hospital.

Leslie Versweyveld

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