Orthopedic surgeons at Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville now have a new robotic arm system to assist them in replacing a small area of the knee with an implant in people with limited osteoarthritis. This is the only robotic arm of its kind in the northeast Florida area, according to these surgeons.
They say the device helps them preserve much more of the knee than was possible previously, which makes the resurfacing surgery an excellent option for people who experience moderate inflammation and pain in one side of their knee due to age-related wear and tear.
"This device allows us to be precise in removing as little bone as feasible, replacing it with a small implant that mimics the healthy knee surface," says Mary I. O'Connor, M.D., Chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville.
Because the robotic surgical procedure is less invasive than other surgical techniques, patients may have a quicker recovery, according to Dr. O'Connor.
Patients who benefit from partial knee replacement surgery tend to be younger, which is why preserving the natural knee structure is so important, adds orthopedic surgeon Cedric Ortiguera, M.D. "Osteoarthritis, which occurs when cartilage wears down, can lead to more widespread degenerative knee disease," says Dr. Ortiguera. "So when you take away as little bone as possible in this robot-arm-assisted procedure, you can replace the entire knee at some point years into the future, if needed.
"This is one option for younger patients experiencing knee pain — perhaps from athletic overuse or from arthritis — who are not candidates for a total knee replacement."
The tool also allows surgeons to be even more precise; they are in charge of the robotic arm system, and the robotic arm responds to the surgeon's guiding hand. In conjunction with CT scans that have been made of a patient's knee, the robot technology calculates a customized surgical plan that precisely pinpoints where knee bones need to be removed and where an implant that replaces the bone should be placed. Before development of this device, there was the potential for less consistent results with use of the routine manual partial knee surgical instruments, according to Dr. O'Connor.
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