MONROE — No one was filming another installment of “The Terminator” at Clearview Regional Medical Center last week. It was just hospital officials showing off their latest tool – a robot that performs knee surgery.
The latest in knee surgery technology, a CT scan is taken of the knee and a computer creates a three-dimensional view of the patient’s bone surface. The image is then programmed into the machine and the robot arm, with guidance from a doctor, repairs the knee, limiting the robot’s movement to the diseased areas while providing for real-time adjustments.
“Precision is key in planning and performing partial knee surgeries,” said CRMC orthopedic surgeon Dr. Shane Smith. “For a good outcome you need to align and position the implants just right. Precision in surgery, and in the pre-operative planning process, is what RIO can deliver for each individual patient.”
Called MAKOplasty, the procedure, now offered at the hospital, is “a minimally invasive treatment option for adults living with early to mid-stage osteoarthritis that has not yet progressed to all three compartments of the knee,” hospital officials said, adding CRMC is the first in the region to offer the procedure.
The robot is actually named RIO for robotic arm interactive orthopedic system.
“Because it is less invasive and preserves more of the patient’s natural knee, the goal is for patients to have relief from their pain, gain back their knee motion and return to their daily activities,” Smith said.
The procedure offers reduced pain, minimal hospitalization, more rapid recovery, less implant wear and loosening, a smaller scar and better motion and a more natural-feeling knee, officials said.
Dr. Craig Mines, who conducted a demonstration of the RIO at the hospital last week, put presentation attendees minds at ease – the robot is not actually conducting the surgery.
“We are essentially using a router – a burr,” Mines said. “This leaves the ligaments in place and is less invasive.”
Phil Newman, 68, of Monroe, watched the demonstration. His knee was so badly injured, the procedure would not help him if it were to be performed. However, he said he wouldn’t mind if a robot operated on him.
“It doesn’t even bother me,” Newman said of the prospect of a robot surgeon.