From an interview with
Chad Thurman, MD
A knee replacement is a very effective treatment for many patients with arthritis, which is one of the most common causes of knee pain in adults and can lead to poor mobility. The addition of robotic-assisted orthopedic surgery to the outpatient joint replacement program at McLeod Health gives us the opportunity to bring the latest in orthopedic technology and innovation to Florence.
Just like in traditional knee replacement surgery, robotic knee replacement surgery involves removing the damaged cartilage and abnormal bone and replacing all or part of the knee joint with an artificial joint. The goal in knee replacement surgery is to give patients a new knee that fits as close as possible to their original knee prior to their arthritis pain or degeneration. Robotic-assisted knee replacement lends fine-tuned precision and consistency to the procedure, providing patients with the most personalized knee replacement possible.
After surgery, physical therapy is often part of a patient’s recovery to help restore the strength and range of motion of the knee. Most individuals are back to their everyday activities within two to three months after surgery, but recovery depends on many factors, such as age, weight, and activity level prior to surgery. In a robotic-assisted knee replacement, patients often require less time in therapy and can return to activities even more quickly because of the enhanced accuracy and precision. Other benefits of robotic-assisted knee surgery include reduced blood loss and reduced soft tissue damage, which translates to lower narcotic use.
Robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery allows the surgeon to perform complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than is possible with traditional techniques. We often think of robotic surgery as the physician being outside of the operating room or away from the operating table, controlling the robot from a distance. However, during robotic-assisted knee replacement, the surgeon’s hands are on the equipment the entire time, directly maneuvering the robot’s every move while at the operating table. Before the surgery begins, the robot can analyze the knee’s unique size and anatomy and communicates the exact alignment, angles, and rotation of both the knee and the saw before making any incisions. An infrared camera and optical tractors provide real-time feedback as the surgeon continuously adjusts the robot during the procedure, giving an extremely well-balanced and accurate knee replacement. For the patient, this means a precise and personalized fit, which leads to a greater range of motion, less pain and a faster recovery than with traditional joint replacement surgery.
Before deciding that a knee replacement is the best option for you, your doctor may try more conservative treatments, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin or Aleve, steroid injections into the joint, physical therapy or weight loss.
You may be a candidate for a knee replacement if you have the following symptoms: knee pain that keeps you awake at night, knee pain that sidelines you from activities, and knee pain that limits daily functions such as climbing stairs. If your conservative treatment of chronic knee pain is no longer working, then it may be time to consider knee replacement. The first step is to have a medical exam with an orthopedic specialist. Weight-bearing X-rays can usually help your doctor determine the condition of the knee. Having this information prior to surgery helps your doctor determine how much improvement you can expect after surgery.
With robotic-assisted surgery, there are significant improvements in recovery and post-operative pain management for knee replacements, with patients often being able to discharge home from the hospital the same day as their procedure.
Knee replacement is one of the most effective and reliable medical procedures performed. It can significantly reduce pain and improve your ability to move.
Determining if robotic-assisted knee replacement is right for you requires careful evaluation and consultation with an orthopedic surgeon.
To learn more, speak with an orthopedic surgeon near you.