Rothman Docs Test New App for Joint Surgery

The app creates a customized map of the patient’s joint, and puts it right in the palm of the surgeon’s hand.

One of Dr. Orozco's assistants shows off the Dash app pre-surgery.

Having knee surgery? There’s an app for that.

Well, sort of. Surgeons at the Rothman Institute are testing out a new app for iPod Touch called Dash, which puts surgical navigation in the palm of their hands. The app creates computerized models of patients’ joints, allowing doctors to make incisions and repairs that are custom-tailored to the patient. Such mapping systems already exist in many operating rooms, but the innovation here is that the app puts the navigation at the doctor’s fingertips—rather than across the operating room on a monitor. In other words, it makes using the technology much more convenient.

Here’s how it works: the iPod Touch is placed in a sterile pouch and “cradle” outfitted with miniature instruments in the operating room. Using an infrared camera, the app creates a model of the patient’s joint right on the screen. This allows the doctor to cut the bone in exactly the right spot, and position and fine-tune the new joint according to the patient’s anatomy.

“This technology is very interesting,” Rothman joint surgeon Fabio R. Orozco said in a press release. “Convenience is the key … If we can get the same outstanding results we obtain using standard navigation equipment with the added convenience of a handheld device, then I think this technology could be very promising.”

Check out the video below to see the Dash in action.