Published on August 22, 2018

Mako robotic-arm assisted surgery helps patients needing knee and hip replacements

Procedure is less invasive, allowing for quicker recovery

Thanks to a generous donation from the Essentia Health Foundation, Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center is the first hospital in the Northland to offer orthopedic patients robotic-arm assisted joint replacement surgery. Called Mako, the robotic-arm assists surgeons performing total knee, partial knee and hip replacement surgeries. The robotic arm combines digital planning, computer technology and surgical technique to allow for the most accurate hip and knee replacements.

Bradley Edgerton, Orthopedic Surgery

“The Mako robotic-arm assisted surgery system is a new technology that provides surgeons a tool with much greater accuracy and safety for performing hip and knee replacement procedures. The more accurately hip and knee implants are placed in the patient’s body, the more successful they will be and the longer they will last,” says Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Brad Edgerton. “Until now, only manual cutting guides were available to surgeons to assist in placement of implants.”

One unique aspect of the Mako surgical system happens well before surgery. CT imaging is done on the knee or hip, allowing for a 3D model, creating an accurate, individual picture for each patient’s joint, identifying the implant size, orientation and alignment based on their unique anatomy. In surgery, using this pre-operative personalized plan, the surgeon guides the robotic-arm to make the precise bone cuts. Adjustments can be made at any time during the operation, since the surgeon is the one performing the operation.

“During the surgery the robotic arm allows me to follow the personalized surgical plan exactly and fine tune it, as needed,” Dr. Edgerton adds. “This way, the exact placement of the hip and knee replacement can be assured and the best possible outcomes achieved for our patients. No other orthopedic robotic system incorporates preoperative imaging to allow this degree of accuracy.”

Mako also benefits patients by targeting only the part of the knee that is damaged, sparing healthy bone and ligaments. A partial or total knee replacement can be done with great accuracy than normal instruments have previously allowed. “Because we know exactly what we will be doing for a patient ahead of the operation, we won’t need bulky cutting blocks to guide our bone preparation, allowing for a less invasive surgery and a quicker recovery period,” Dr. Edgerton says.

Any patient who is a candidate for a partial knee, total knee or total hip replacement can chose the Mako technology.

“At Essentia Health, we are committed to medically preparing patients for joint replacement surgery and using all proven non-operative measures before operating and the Mako system does not change that,” Dr. Edgerton says.

Dr. Edgerton has completed the full training program for Mako, including study at Stryker’s main headquarters where Mako was developed, labs with nationally recognized experts on robotic joint replacement procedures and participating in surgeries at established centers.

“Professionally, I am committed to providing the highest quality joint replacement possible and the Mako technology is another advancement in our ability to bring higher quality, more precise and safer joint replacement surgery to our patients,” Dr. Edgerton says. “I am excited to bring this technology to our patients in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. We know the guiding principles that ensure a good outcome for our patients, but we have never before had a tool this accurate to allow us to achieve those goals.” Total knee replacements are expected to increase 673 percent by 2030 in the U.S. St. Mary’s anticipates 250 Mako robotic-arm assisted surgeries by June 2019.

“My practice is exclusively hip and knee replacement and revisions of those operations as needed. Despite performing more than 300 joint replacements a year, I think this technology will allow me to do an even better job for my patients,” he adds.

“The Essentia Health Foundation’s support of $1 million for this purchase is made possible by the generosity of donors in our community,” says Foundation Director Derek Groves. “Their donations will directly help many people in our community and we are very grateful to them for making it possible."

To learn more, visit Hip & Knee Replacement or call Essentia Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at (218) 786-3520.

About the Essentia Health Foundation:

Essentia Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Essentia Health, is committed to its mission of building philanthropic support to help make a healthy difference in people’s lives. 100% of money donated to Essentia Health Foundation supports the foundation’s patient-centered mission. To learn more about Essentia Health Foundation visit the foundation or call 218-786-8966.