Robotic Arm Assists in Partial Knee Replacement

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DES MOINES, IOWA –We rely on our joints for everyday activities.  As people age, things like your knees start to wear out.  A robot could help you find relief.

Jerry Johnson is feeling great, despite having surgery a day before. "Got me in, through the surgery, and up and walking in just a few hours yesterday," he said.

He had a partial knee replacement, with the help of a robot. "It is a way to a very reproducable, very accurate partial knee replacement for people who don't need a full replacement, if they've just worn out one of the three compartments of the knee," said Dr. Barron Bremner with Des Moines Orthopaedic Surgeons.

The Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery for partial knee replacement system has been at Iowa Lutheran since October.

The patient has a CT scan of the knee before the surgery. The team makes a personalized plan based on the alignment of the knee. The actual surgery takes about an hour. "I control the robot, and it only allows me to put the implant in exactly how we planned it out before surgery. So, there's really very little room for error," said Dr. Bremner.

Dr. Bremner said patients should talk to their surgeon about the possibility. He said, “It's not for every person who has knee arthritis, and you always try everything that's not surgical before doing the surgery, even if it's less invasive. So, the injections, the medicine, weight loss is over paramount importance."

Johnson is glad he had the partial knee replacement. "I feel pretty good. I've had another replacement before, a year or so ago. A full replacement. This is a partial. It's much less pain. I think the recovery will be good," he said.

Doctors say recovery is quicker, and patients can leave the hospital the same or next day.