So maybe you’ve got a chronic knee problem and it’s time to do something to stop the pain and be active again. If you don’t like the thought of a surgeon sawing off your knee joint and cutting through muscle and tendons (aka traditional open surgery for a total knee replacement) then odds are you’re looking into minimally invasive knee surgery (MIS) options. If the approach is right for you, there can be distinct benefits—particularly if you’re a candidate for partial knee replacement using the latest robotic procedures.
Why do people replace a knee joint?
The National Institutes of Health say that most often, a knee joint is replaced to relieve severe arthritis pain that hasn’t improved after trying other treatments—and yet the pain is still keeping you from sleeping or doing normal activities like walking or taking care of yourself.
Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, is the most common chronic condition of the joints. It means that the firm, rubbery cartilage that covers the end of a bone, acting as a cushion between two bones, has broken down. That lack of cartilage causes pain, swelling and problems with movement. The condition often gets worse over time, with other problems arising from the pain, inflammation and ongoing tissue damage that’s occurring in the knee.
More than half the U.S. population is estimated to suffer from knee osteoarthritis in their lifetime, with 80 percent experiencing some sort of limited movement from the condition. More than 600,000 Americans annually turn to knee joint replacement surgery for help, with 90 percent reporting a dramatic reduction in pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
What is joint replacement?
Knee joint surgery can repair or replace severely damaged joints. Joint replacement is a procedure that involves replacing an injured or ailing knee with an artificial joint, or prosthesis, that’s made of metal alloys, plastics or polymers. This implant mimics the function of a knee with the aim of relieving pain so a person can return to normal activities.
Total knee replacement vs MIS knee replacement surgery
Here’s how the AAOS explains the difference between traditional total joint replacement and MIS knee joint surgery. Total knee replacement (also called knee arthroplasty) is a common orthopedic procedure for replacing the damaged or worn surfaces of the knee joint.
- The traditional surgical approach uses a long vertical incision in the center of the knee to view and access the joint.
- Minimally invasive total knee replacement is a variation of this approach: the surgeon uses a shorter incision and a different, less-invasive technique to expose the joint—with the goal of reducing postoperative pain and speeding recovery.
- However, minimally invasive knee surgery is not suitable for every patient. Different factors go into determining the right surgical approach for each person.
For those lucky enough to treat arthritis early on, before the condition gets too severe, there’s another way to make minimally invasive knee surgery even less invasive.
Partial knee replacement with robotic surgery, even less invasive
One approach that’s revolutionizing surgeons’ ability to treat diseased knees in more precise ways, while keeping more body tissue intact, is called MAKOplasty® Partial Knee Resurfacing.
This is a treatment option for adults living with early to mid-stage osteoarthritis that has not yet progressed to all three compartments of the knee. As an advanced partial replacement, it is less invasive than traditional total knee surgery. That’s because only the diseased portion of the knee is replaced, sparing healthy bone and the ligaments known as the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), ligaments that are removed in a total knee replacement.
How MAKOplasty® Partial Knee Resurfacing works
- A pre-surgical plan is created based on a CT scan of the patient’s knee.
- The surgeon uses a robotic arm during surgery to resurface the diseased portion of the knee, sparing healthy bone and surrounding tissue for a more natural feeling knee.
- An implant is then secured in the joint to allow the knee to move smoothly again.
The surgery is performed with the RIO® Robotic Arm Interactive Orthopedic System. This surgeon-controlled robotic arm system enables accurate alignment and placement of implants. It enables surgeons to personalize partial knee and total hip arthroplasties to achieve optimal results at a level of accuracy and reproducibility previously unattainable with conventional instrumentation.
The RIO System features a patient-specific visualization system and proprietary tactile robotic arm technology that is integrated with intelligent surgical instruments. It helps surgeons pre-plan a procedure to treat each patient uniquely, while enabling more precise and consistent results.
Top benefits of MAKOplasty® Partial Knee Resurfacing
When compared to traditional open surgery, MAKOplasty® procedures using the RIO robotic arm can offer:
- Smaller incisions and less pain
- Optimal implant placement and alignment
- Ability to preserve healthy bone and tissue—only diseased portions are removed
- Faster recovery and shorter hospital stays
- More natural feeling after surgery
“The advantages of the robotic-assisted platform represent what’s possible in the next frontier—the next level of consciousness, so to speak—of joint replacements,” says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard A. Boiardo, chief of orthopedics at Hoboken University Medical Center, which in 2014 was one of the first hospitals in Hudson County, New Jersey to offer MAKOplasty® Partial Knee Resurfacing and MAKOplasty Total Hip Replacement procedures using the RIO. “The robot provides orthopedic surgeons the means to more closely achieve a stable and long-lasting joint with a painless range of motion.”
Robotic surgery, also called robot-assisted surgery, has increasingly allowed surgeons treating specific conditions to do more for patients, while inflicting less pain, than ever before. In some ways, you might say it turns surgeons into super surgeons.
Is MAKOplasty® right for me?
Robotic surgery and partial knee replacement isn't an option for everyone. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks, and how it compares with other techniques, such as other types of minimally invasive surgery and conventional open surgery.
With the help of a skilled physician, you can make educated decisions about your health to be at your best at any stage of life. To learn about the comprehensive services we provide, please contact us.
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