Operating room robots aren’t just things from science fiction movies. In fact, many orthopedic surgeons already use them to increase their accuracy and precision. Total hip replacements are now being performed with the help of Mako, a robotic arm, and a three-dimensional modeling software system. Dr. David Cheong at Orthopedic Associates in West Florida, located in Clearwater, is one of the few surgeons in the state who uses MAKO to replace hip instead of just knee. Explain its benefits.
What is a macoplasty?
“Mako is the name of the robot used in makoplasty procedures. It’s basically robot-assisted arthroplasty or joint replacement surgery,” says Cheong. “Makoplastys begins with a computed tomography of the hip, which is then used to plan the placement of the implant. Not only planning, but execution can be done with significant accuracy because of this technology.” .
The procedure takes a few hours in an outpatient center. It starts with computed tomography (or CT), which becomes a 3D model of your natural anatomy, thanks to Mako software. The robotic arm is then directed by the surgeon to help place the hip implant at the correct point. Cheong says the Mako gives him auditory, visual, and tactile cues to help guide him in the right direction. Once completed, patients can leave the operation on the same day, without the need for hospitalization.
How long is the recovery time?
“Recovery lasts two to six weeks, which is also typical of traditional hip replacements,” says Cheong. “The only difference is the way the procedure is performed.”
In a matter of weeks, patients usually return to normal daily activities, but physical therapy is required to regain strength and make sure the implant is working properly. From here, follow-up appointments with the surgeon will be required. Implants can last from 10 to 25 years, depending on weight, activity level and general health.
How much does a macoplasty cost? Medicare and private insurers will cover the cost of a macoplasty because it is still considered a joint replacement surgery. Out-of-pocket costs will be the same as for traditional surgeries: $ 17,000 to $ 20,000. The cost of the robotic arm is expensive for doctors ’offices, so many hospitals don’t have it, just orthopedic practices.
Why don’t more surgeons use Mako’s robotic arms?
“A lot of doctors use this machine just for knee replacement, but the technology is a constantly evolving process. I think we’re going to start seeing more doctors implementing it,” Cheong says. “As surgeons, we are creatures of habit and it all depends on the type of doctor and the style they prefer, traditional or technological.” Cheong has been using the Mako arm for five years and believes it helps him place implants more accurately while eliminating other variables.
Who is a good candidate for a Makoplasty? According to Beaumont Health, makoplasties are for anyone suffering from non-inflammatory or inflammatory degenerative joint disease. Forms of degenerative joint disease include osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, avascular necrosis, and hip dysplasia. Cheong adds that patients who prefer not to receive surgery may apply cortisone injections or anti-inflammatory medications as alternative treatments.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the patient to decide what they’d like to do,” Cheong says. “But for many, this type of surgery greatly improves their quality of life.”