Groundbreaking Robotic Surgery

Dr. Ryan Dabbs, who lives just outside Farragut, recently has performed the first robotic total knee replacement surgery in the state using the newest ZimmerBiomet ROSA device.

A board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dabbs specializes in hip, knee, shoulder, total joint and fracture care and arthroscopic surgeries and is certified in robotic-assisted hip and knee replacement systems.

While there have been previous robotic knee replacement surgeries, the one he performed in early January marked the first use of this newest, most cutting-edge technology in the state, according to Dabbs, a partner at Tennessee Orthopedic Clinics in Towers of Parkwest in Knoxville.

ZimmerBiomet, which “has the largest market share in the world of joint replacements” released the ROSA robotic system in January 2019, Dabbs said.

He already had been using ZimmerBiomet equipment for his total joint replacements.

“As more technology becomes more accepted, more a standard of care, I kept reaching out to the developers for the company,” Dabbs said. “So, as soon as it was released last year, we started working on getting the ROSA robot here (Parkwest Medical Center). Covenant (Health) purchased the robot (in December 2019), so I could use it here at Parkwest.”

ROSA robotic system provides better accuracy and efficiency in the operating room, he said.

“The difference between the ZimmerBiomet ROSA robotic arm (and other robotic arms is) the (ROSA) robotic arm simply holds the cutting guide,” Dabbs added. “The cutting instrument is still in the surgeon’s hand, so I’m still able to make all of the surgical preparations with the most efficient instrument, which is my own hand, but the robot arm lines the cutting guide up as accurately as a robot can. There’s much less margin of error.”

Also, the system uses an X-ray to create a 3-D model of the individual anatomy of the patient’s knee using a software of X-ray guidance versus a CT scan or an MRI the other systems use.

“That’s less pre-operative radiation exposure, generally quicker time for turnaround to prepare for surgery,” Dabbs added.

Having performed 15 such surgeries, “The patients are doing great, and the operative time, efficiency and outcomes have been at the very top of expectations,” he said.

“I think (the system) has been doing very well,” Dabbs added. “It’s lived up to its expectations of patient outcomes — patients doing well — and increased efficiency and accuracy.”

News of the surgery in January shows East Tennesseans that “advanced technology is available to us here in West Knoxville, and it’s the most advanced technology of anywhere in the world,” he said.

“Covenant values its being able to provide the robotic technology,” he said. “We, as surgeons, value that for optimizing patient outcomes … so patients don’t need to go to Nashville or anywhere else to get the best orthopedic care.”