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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Surgeons tune into iPod for more precise, less-invasive orthopedic procedures

Franciscan St. Francis Health first in Indiana and among first nationally to use new device

Dr. Tim Williams (l) checks the iPod touch instrument and calibration
with an assistant as they  prepare to proceed with the knee replacement procedure

INDIANAPOLISFranciscan St. Francis Health orthopedic surgeons are using new technology in tandem with the Apple iPod touch ® to more effectively treat patients undergoing knee and hip joint replacements.

Timothy Williams, MD, a surgeon with the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports, today (Dec. 4) successfully treated a patient receiving a knee replacement, using a portable navigational system called the Dash ® Smart Instrument Technology by Brainlab. Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administrations, the system is designed to provide the benefits of traditional surgical navigation in a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution.

Unlike more complex computer-assisted surgical navigation systems, the iPod is a common, off-the-shelf device. The nuance is in the actual application.

A computer animation displays a "real time" step during the procedure.

Williams is the first in Indiana and among the first nationally to tap into the new application, developed by the Germany-based software company, Brainlab.

“This technology allows us to more precisely target the surgical area in a less invasive way,” said Williams. “In the end, this means better outcomes for our patients.”

Here’s how it works: In the operating room, the iPod is placed in a sterile clear bag and inserted into a small cradle with reflective spheres. An infrared camera system is then affixed to a mobile, easy-to-maneuver platform. The surgeon touches a digitizing probe mounted to the iPod to surgical landmarks as the navigational system records the information.

Williams uses the navigation system to fine-tune
adjustments to surgical instruments.

Calculations are made in milliseconds, and the camera sends a 3-D image of the treatment area to the surgeon.

“The intuitive navigation provides accurate navigation throughout the procedure and allows the surgeon to make fine-tuned adjustments to surgical instruments to ensure correct placement of artificial knee and hip implants,” Williams said.  “Well-placed implants can reduce initial post-operative complications, as well as potential revision surgeries in the future. The Dash technology provides me with information to ensure proper implant placement.”

Franciscan St. Francis Health    With hospitals in Indianapolis, Mooresville and Carmel, Franciscan St. Francis Health is a member of Franciscan Alliance, which operates 13 hospitals in Indiana and Illinois. Franciscan Alliance provides care for 3 million outpatient visits and more than 100,000 inpatient discharges every year with the most effective medical treatments and innovative technology. Franciscan Alliance, one of the largest Catholic health-care systems in the Midwest, employs 18,200 co-workers and has more than 3,300 affiliated physicians – both primary care and specialists – serving nearly 4 million people in the system’s service areas. To learn more about Franciscan Alliance and Franciscan St. Francis Health, go to and

Brainlab     Brainlab develops, manufactures and markets software-driven medical technology that supports targeted, less-invasive treatment. Core products are image-guided systems and software that provide real-time information used for surgical navigation and radiosurgical planning and delivery. Brainlab technology drives collaboration between hospitals and clinicians from a wide variety of subspecialties—from neurosurgery and oncology to orthopedics, ENT, CMF and spine & trauma. This integration delivers better access to improved and more efficient treatment. Founded in 1989, the privately held Brainlab group has more than 5,000 systems installed in about 80 countries. Based in Munich, Germany, Brainlab employs 1,070 people in 17 offices worldwide. To learn more, visit