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Knee surgery at Saint Francis gets leg up from robotic arm

  • Written by Wiley Henry

roboticsurgerystuffIt looks like something from sci-fi upon first glance – a droid, perhaps, with the capabilities of performing intricate tasks with pin-point precision. But without this advanced technology in robotic engineering, the intricate tasks would have to be performed entirely by human hands.

That's no longer the case at Saint Francis Hospital – Memphis, where orthopedic surgeons will start in a few days performing MAKOplasty partial knee resurfacing on adults with early to mid-stage osteoarthritis using RIO®, a highly advanced surgeon controlled robotic arm system. The robot was on display recently (Nov. 7) during an Open House at Saint Francis Hospital.

The $1 million medical device, referred to as the MAKO Robot, is a surgeon-interactive robotic arm and visualization technology first developed in 2007 and didn't hit the market until 2009. Saint Francis is the first and only hospital in Memphis to acquire the highly advanced technology.

Here's how the MAKO Robot works: Before the patient goes to surgery, a CT scan is taken to get a clear three-dimensional, virtual view of the diseased knee. The image then appears on a monitor – again in three-dimension – so the orthopedic surgeon can see the work in progress.

"An incision less than 3 inches is made," explained Dr. Apurva R. Dalal, an orthopedic surgeon at Saint Francis. "The robot goes in and takes out the diseased portion of the knee and puts in this artificial surface ... an implant that works like a natural knee."

The robotic arm maneuvers inside the knee, said Dalal, and mirrors the image on the monitor to preserve natural bone and cartilage. "It is minimally invasive. It mimics the natural knee. And we can recreate your knee and resurface it."

Dalal said the robot can achieve greater accuracy in partial knee replacement.

"MAKOplasty allows us to treat patients with knee osteoarthritis at earlier stages and with greater precision. Because it is less invasive and preserves more of the patient's natural knee, the goal is for patients to have relief from their pain, gain back their knee motion, and return to their daily activities," said David Archer, CEO of Saint Francis.

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