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Ask a Doc: Mako Robotic Surgery for Joint Replacement

Dr. Dirk Bakker answers your questions about the Mako robot used for joint replacement surgery.

What orthopedic surgeries can be performed with the Mako robot?

Currently Mako robotic technology is set up for total knee replacement, partial knee replacement and total hip replacement. Doctors and researchers are working on platforms to eventually include shoulders and spine as well as other applications, but we’re not quite there yet. The great thing about robotic surgery is that it is constantly evolving and improving at a rapid rate.

What are the benefits to having your surgery done robotically?

Due to smaller incisions, less trauma to the soft tissues and greater implant precision, robotic surgery provides the following benefits over traditional open procedures including:

  • More precise surgery for implant positioning and sizing.  The thought with this is that if the implant is placed a precisely as possible, it has a greater likelihood of not wearing as quick or coming loose, therefore lasting longer.
  • Shorter hospital stay. In fact, about 75% of our cases go home the same day.
  • Less blood loss.
  • Less pain and therefore less need for narcotic pain control
  • Faster return to normal activities.

Are the recovery times any different from that of a typical joint replacement surgery?

Yes. Patients are usually back to 80-90 percent of normal activities after just 2-3 weeks and up to 100 percent of activities within 1-2 months. This is due to the less invasive technique of the robotic surgery that decreases the trauma to the joint and surrounding tissue. Of course there are always exceptions to this but in general these outcomes are extraordinary in terms of return to activities the patient previously enjoyed, but was limited in due to the pain of the arthritis.

Who is a candidate for robotic joint replacement surgery?

Basically anyone undergoing joint replacement of knee or hip is a candidate for Mako robotic surgery. Certainly non-operative measures should be considered first including medications, physical therapy, activity modification, weight loss, or injections. Not all hospitals have robotic technology or are able to offer all three options of partial and total knee replacement and total hip replacement. One should check with their orthopaedic surgeon to see if they are trained on robotics and if their hospital offers this option.

It is important that you are evaluated by your orthopaedic surgeon to determine the extent of the osteoarthritis and to determine if you are a candidate for the robotic surgery. Joint replacement surgery is still a major surgical intervention, but with Mako technology we can offer a greater chance at better, short and long-term outcomes, it is quickly becoming the new standard of care in orthopaedics.

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