News & Events > Core Orthopedics Using Robotic Arm For Joint Replacement

Core Orthopedics Using Robotic Arm For Joint Replacement

Posted Jan 1, 2017 at 2:01 AM
By Karen Dandurant
EXETER - Robotics are becoming widely accepted in a variety of surgical procedures and now physicians at Core Orthopedics at Exeter Hospital are using a robotic arm for joint replacement surgery.
Dr. Tom McGovern is a joint replacement specialist with Core, and, where applicable, is using a Mako robotic arm to complete computer driven operations.
According to information provided by Exeter Hospital, the medical equipment company Stryker owns the Mako surgical corporation. The Mako reconstructive arm used at Exeter Hospital has been used to provide more than 50,000 hip and knee replacements nationwide, since 2006.
A key benefit of using Mako is that the procedures are potentially more precise because of the computer modeling used to program the device.
"In the United States, most knee and hip replacement surgeries take place because of arthritis," said McGovern. "The disease deteriorates the cartilage that usually cushions the bones. Pain on movement is the result."
However, McGovern said about 15 percent of patients only have arthritis in a small part of the knee or hip and a full replacement may be unnecessary.
"A partial knee replacement may be better," McGovern said. "But a partial replacement is, in some ways, more complex. It's like building a new house, while working with what is already there."

Using the computer can help doctors to prepare the bone, McGovern said. Merging that with robotic technology means the machine prepares the bone and completes the procedure with greater precision, leaving little to no room for error.
"We start with a 3D CT scan," McGovern said. "We can map out the entire operation on the computer and then the robotic arm performs the procedure."
McGovern said he has been doing computer-assisted surgeries since 2003.
"The Mako is a really nice tool to achieve a good end point," McGovern said. "It is a nice fit and restores function so the patient will end up with pain-free movement."
Joint replacements do have a shelf life. McGovern said a younger person will likely need a replacement for the replacement eventually.
"They can last up to 20 years," McGovern said. "It really depends on a lot of factors. About 85 percent of my patients still have theirs from 15years ago. Based on the current data, joint replacements should last at least 13-15 years, maybe longer."