It’s Not Robotic Surgery: It’s Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery – That Means You Still Need a Great Surgeon!

We live in an age where technology is doing a lot of our work for us, such as self-driving cars, auto-correct word processing, and Alexa.  It’s easy to think surgery is going that direction, too, when you hear people talking about “robots in the operating room.”  As a patient, you need to understand the role of the surgeon vs. the role of the technology as you choose to have joint replacement surgery.

“There’s a common misperception out there that a robot is doing the surgery,” says Dr. Rick Baszler of Grand Haven Bone and Joint.  “That’s not the case!  The robotic arm is simply a tool that a surgeon uses to be more precise.”

Success in a joint replacement can be measured in fractions of inches.  “A millimeter can affect how well the new joint functions once it is in place,” continues Dr. Baszler.  “When we use the Mako System, we can measure our positioning within one-tenth of a millimeter.  We can be more precise and see much more of the anatomy.  That also helps us account for challenges like limb differences.

This surgery still requires an excellent surgeon.  The surgeon is making the decisions and evaluating the images, not the robotic arm.  “Our group performed more than 1,400 joint replacements last year,” he notes.  “I have performed more than 2,800 total knee and total hip replacements myself.  That is a lot of experience.  I use that experience to make decisions.  Then I am using the robotic arm to help me implement those decisions.”

The Mako System is a tool that experienced surgeons can use to make the joint replacement better.  “The precision we achieve is certainly a benefit,” Dr. Baszler says.  “I can visualize the whole surgery in 3D before I make the first cut.  That means less in and out with instruments, and less muscle damage as I get a better view.  That leads to far less physical therapy and pain medication while the patient is recovering.  Overall, it’s a faster, less painful recovery with a better long-term prognosis.”

“Our goal is to tighten the bell curve of traditional orthopedic surgery,” concludes Dr. Baszler.  “With traditional joint replacement, there is a small group of people that has virtually perfect results.  Then there is the large group in the middle that has a pretty good experience, but still experience some pain.  However, there is a small number of people for whom the joint replacement does not solve all their pain issues.  Using the Mako Technology, our goal is to get far more people into the ‘virtually perfect’ category, so that surgery gives them the quality of life they wish to achieve by greatly improving accuracy with a shortened recovery time.  We also hope to create substantial improvement for even the most difficult cases.”

If you would like to learn more about Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery, we invite you to attend a free seminar or ask your physician for a referral to Mako Orthopedic Surgeon.


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