Thomas McGovern, MD, a joint replacement specialist, uses the new MAKO robotic arm for partial knee replacement. The MAKO technology allows for more precise and custom treatment of the joint, enabling Dr. McGovern to perform partial knee replacements instead of full knee replacements for appropriate patients, extending the life of the joint.
Most knee and hip replacement surgeries take place because of arthritis, in which deterioration of the cushioning in the joint leads to painful bone-on-bone contact. However, about 15 percent of patients only have arthritis in a small part of the joint and a full replacement may be unnecessary.
In these cases, a partial knee replacement could be done, but a partial knee replacement is more complex as the surgeon is only removing a part as opposed to the entire joint.
For a partial joint replacement, as with a full knee replacement, Dr. McGovern starts with a 3D CT scan to map out the joint to ensure a custom fit. Using the robotic arm for the surgery allows Dr. McGovern to be much more precise and does not allow the surgeon to go “outside the lines” of the mapped out boundaries of the part to be replaced.
“When patients hear ‘robotic surgery’, they often imagine a robot is now doing the surgery,” said Dr. McGovern. “In actuality, this MAKO robotic arm is a tool that I use during surgery to ensure greater accuracy and precision.”
Dr. McGovern has performed thousands of joint replacements in his career as an orthopedic surgeon.