Avera Medical Minute: Robotic orthopedic surgery available in Aberdeen

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 6:45 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - In Aberdeen, robotic-assisted orthopedic surgery is helping Avera Health patients like Bruce Johnson.

“Struggled with walking and with a lot of pain in my knees, actually for several years and this last fall I actually was out walking our family pet and I ran into Dr. Christensen and he said ‘I think you need to come and see me,”’ said Johnson.

X-rays showed Johnson had classic arthritis in both his knees.

“It was pretty severe, almost bone-on-bone in some of the areas of his knee,” said Dr. Seth Christensen, Avera Health Orthopedic Surgeon.

Dr. Christensen recommended a double knee replacement, which Johnson agreed to.

“My wife, a little over a year-and-a-half ago, had knee surgery too, done on both of her knees two separate times. And you know, watched her quality of life improve drastically and so I just wanted to keep up with our grandchildren with my wife,” said Johnson.

However, unlike his wife who received traditional orthopedic surgery, Johnson received robotic surgery. The technology is new to Aberdeen. It became available in August of 2020.

It involves taking a CT scan and creating a 3D model of the patient’s knee. This allows for more personalized surgery.

“So instead of it being a cookie-cutter operation, where we do it basically the same way every time, it’s I can take their knee, their anatomy and I can put the implants and I can cater the surgery specific to their needs,” said Dr. Christensen.

Doctors can run simulations before the operation to figure out the best placement for the implants.

“Then when I go into the operation I put sensors on their femur and on their tibia that communicate with the robot and then in real-time I can make any fine adjustments that I need to to make sure that before I leave that operating room that knee is perfectly balanced and it’s perfectly aligned,” said Dr. Christensen.

“Gives the patients the best chance, because it’s another tool in our toolbox to give them the best chance of getting into that 82 percent of a perfect outcome,” he added.

Johnson says it helped him have a quicker recovery period than his wife.

“I think, you know, her recovery, she had four months between the surgeries. Where I, you know was nine weeks,” said Johnson.

“But it’s an interesting thing and you look at the preciseness of the cuts and it’s not as invasive in the soft tissue and it’s quite a piece of equipment to have,” he added.

Johnson is currently on the mend.

“I’m still building up some of my strength, but it’s so much better, I’m walking two miles a day right now and I’d say if you’ve got to get it done, go ahead and do it and this (Aberdeen Orthopedic Clinic) is a good place to do it,” said Johnson.

Dr. Christensen urges those in pain to not wait to get help. Especially those in Aberdeen who now have the technology available close to home.

‘It’s really nice that Avera has allowed me to bring the Mako Robot technology to a smaller city and a smaller hub to give the patients here, the good people here in Aberdeen the same opportunities that those patients that live in those bigger cities,” said Dr. Christensen.

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