“Can a robot help cure my arthritis and send me home the same day?”
I hate to ruin surprises, but the answer is a resounding YES. As a kid, I believed one day I would be zipping around in a flying car and have a robot at home like The Jetsons. Well, my car doesn’t fly, but I do have a robot helping me perform surgery, and that’s pretty cool.
You might ask yourself, why is this doc excited about a robot? It’s because this technology is changing the way we treat knee osteoarthritis (OA), and the results are amazing. Osteoarthritis is a common cause of disability and over 600,000 total knee replacements (TKRs) are performed annually as a result. This means a lot of people need new knees.
Let’s review knee anatomy and OA. The knee is divided into three compartments and coated with cartilage to protect it during walking. When the cartilage wears out, it causes damage and OA, which leads to pain.
For some, all three compartments are affected by OA, but 30% of people only have one compartment affected. This is where things get interesting. If you have OA involving two or three compartments, a TKR makes sense. What about the 30%? Does it make sense to replace your entire knee when only one part is worn out?
Common sense says no. It makes sense to replace only what is worn out, but due to the technical challenges and lack of experience in performing a partial knee replacement (PKR), most orthopedic surgeons recommend a TKR.
A PKR, performed in appropriate patients and done well, gives results equal to or better than a TKR. Not to mention it’s less invasive and offers a faster recovery. This is where robotics play a key role. This technology allows us to plan your surgery beforehand, and tailor it exactly to your anatomy. This plan is then executed in surgery, using the robot precisely with less than 1 mm of error.
This precision and accuracy far outperforms any surgeon. One of the main causes of failure after PKRs is surgical error. This is eliminated using robotic technology, and the benefits go to the patient.
That is why this doc is so excited! Plus, when incorporated into our total joints pathway, patients walk immediately with minimal pain, and most go home the same day in a flying car. Okay, no flying car. We only have the robot, but a doc can dream.
Dr. Corrales specializes in the management and surgical treatment of degenerative and arthritic conditions of the shoulder, hip and knee. He received his medical education at Harvard Medical School and residency training at UC San Francisco. To schedule an appointment, please call Garey Orthopedics at 909-593-7437.
Dr. Luis A. Corrales, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon & Joint Replacement Specialist, Director of Joint Replacement Surgery, Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare