Avera Medical Minute: Using robots as an assistant during surgery

Published: Aug. 8, 2019 at 5:18 PM CDT
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Would you let a robot assist in your hip replacement operation? Sally Howard of Brookings highly suggests it.

"I thought it was great," said Howard. "Less chance of mistakes, I had read up on it and it's much more precise, They took a cat scan, fed that into the computer and it shows the doctor exactly where to make the cut in the femur, how much of the pelvic bone needed to be bored away, how to place the new hip into my femur and so there's less chance of your legs being different lengths."

Sally's research backs up what orthopedic surgeons already knew. Utilizing the MAKO robot for surgery is bringing orthopedic surgery to a new level of care.

Dr. Michael Holmoe performed Sally's hip replacement at Brookings Health System. "It is the least invasive that we have here. Whether your approach is anterior or posterior for a hip, or a knee replacement total or partial," said Dr. Holmoe.

And because of the MAKO robot-assisted surgery, there's less downtime after the procedure. "They get anatomy restored as soon as possible and they have less pain postoperatively. So they get up, get moving and back to their family," said Doctor Holmoe.

Studies have shown less pain when a MAKO Robot is involved in the surgery.

Doctor Mark Mayer's specialty is knee replacements at Brookings Health System. He says if there is lingering pain after replacement surgery, it can sometimes be tied to a human factor. "Probably the biggest factor is actually surgeon error, basically less than ideal carpentry. So when it comes to the MAKO, we're able to do it as optimal as possible every time on every patient," said Dr. Mayer.

The robot also has safety protocols built-in. "That boundary helps protect you so that if you go outside of it, the saw will actually turn off, so you're able to carry it out exactly how you designed for it to happen," said Dr. Mayer.

Sally says she hasn't felt this good in nearly 15 years. "I can tie my shoes, I can get in and out of the car without any pain, up and downstairs," said Howard. "The minute that you and your doctor feel that you're ready and it's time, get it done."

The MAKO robot will soon be available in Sioux Falls at the new The Avera on Louise Health Campus. The hospital will open in October.

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