ELYRIA — The technology for knee and hip replacements at University Hospital Elyria Medical Center advanced leaps and bounds with the introduction of a new robotic arm.
At an event Friday where the hospital hosted an opportunity to “meet the robot,” Dr. Bill Stanfield said the latest generation of Stryker’s Mako System robotic arm is an update from the hospital’s last iteration, which only allowed for partial knee replacements.
“We have a newer upgraded robot and so now we can do it for total knees and hips as well, so that’s the exciting part,” he said, noting the hospital has been using Mako System robotics since 2008.” The robotics are helping more patients.”
Stanfield, who is the director of the Center for Bone and Joint Replacement for the hospital, said a significant part of the population will be undergoing joint replacements in the upcoming years and it’s expected to increase by 200 percent as the population ages. People are living longer and younger people are not willing to wait for their joint replacement.
“Previously, people were told you can’t have one until you’re 50 and now, with newer technology, replacements are lasting longer so people aren’t just willing to live with their arthritis until they reach a certain age,” he said. “They want to get it done.”
UH Elyria President Kristi Sink said the robot, which is the only one of its kind from Elyria to Fort Wayne, Indiana, lends itself well to a planned $11 million investment to the hospital’s operating rooms, where work should begin in December or January.
“They’ll be much more private, much more effective for families and more efficient for our surgeons,” she said. “There will also be five larger (operating rooms), so when we have tools that are as sophisticated as robots and some of the things we’re doing with open heart that takes people and instrumentation, that’s big; so it’ll give us larger rooms that make that work more viable.”
During a demonstration of the robot’s abilities, Stanfield, one of three doctors who use the technology, said the machine differs from previous iterations because it allows the surgeons to create a 3-D reconstruction of the joint after taking a pre-operation CT scan.
“So before we get to the operating room, we have the correct plan in place to get everything in the exact position where it needs to be,” he said, explaining in the traditional method for the surgery, doctors have to work off approximations that make the replacement joint feel less like the original.
Stanfield said using the new machine was like driving a car that monitors what lane you’re driving in and has a built-in GPS.
“It won’t do the driving for you, but it won’t let you slip out of you lane,” he said. “We can make a detour if there’s a road closed or a car accident. We can re-create that plan precisely before we get into the operating room. The robot doesn’t do the surgery for us, and that’s a question I get a lot. We actually do the driving just like when you’re driving your car, but the robot helps us to stay in our lane and re-create what we had done before the pre-op.”
Stanfield said an operation with the robotic arm takes slightly longer than the traditional surgery but because of the advances in technology, the new arm takes half the time of the previous version.
“But it’s more accurate,” he said. “The surgery takes a little bit longer than the traditional way, but the ability to keep you in the safe zone is much more accurate than it was and the time that it takes to do the surgery has been cut in half from the old robot.”
Post-op is also smoother with the robot, he said, with the plan “to get everyone up and out of bed the day of surgery” and “over 90 percent of those patients will go home the day after surgery.”
UH Elyria Medical Center will host a joint pain seminar and education event 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Spitzer Conference Center at Lorain County Community College, 1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, to hear from orthopedic surgeons about the latest treatment options for joint pain. Register by calling (800) 883-3674.