LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - 600,000 people in the United States will undergo a total knee replacement this year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
An innovative alternative to conventional knee replacements is now available in Lake Charles, tapping into the smarts of a robot.
History has been in the making inside CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital's operating room this month.
"This is the future," said Dr. John Noble, orthopaedic surgeon with Imperial Health Center for Orthopaedics. "The robotic total knee replacement is now available in Southwest Louisiana."
This breakthrough surgical procedure is done through the MAKO system with a robotic arm called RIO.
It is used specifically by the orthopedic team, led by Dr. John Noble, who says each patient's procedure is as unique as their fingerprint.
"We take a CT scan or what some people call a cat scan before the procedure and we're able to plan the procedure around that CT scan," said Dr. Noble.
Hip replacements and partial knee replacements have been done with the MAKO system for years, but this is the first time total knees can be done, a huge advance Dr. Jonathan Foret is excited to offer patients.
"The precision that the robot allows, allows us to be much more certain of the sizes of the implants, much more accurate in the way we implant the total knee," said Dr. Foret.
I followed up with this team after the first week of performing robot-assisted total knee replacements.
Dr. Noble says the biggest misconception is that the surgeon is at a console operating the robot during the surgery, but that is not the case with MAKO.
"We still do the surgery, we still do the approach and we do it with the patient, right next to them," said Dr. Noble. "So the robotic arm is simply a way to be more precise."
That precision with a virtually-planned procedure is expected to lead to longer-lasting implants for patients.
"That's our goal. We believe if we put the components in as good as we possibly can today, at least in what our contemporary knowledge is, then that gives us the best opportunity for the implants to last as long as they can," said Dr. Noble.
The FDA approval for the robot-assisted total knee replacement is so new, that only a handful of patients have had it here so far, but Dr. Noble says he sees the tide turning for the future.
"My prediction is that in five to ten years, that a vast majority of knee replacements will be done using this technology," said Dr. Noble.
Another big difference for robot-assisted total knee replacements versus conventional procedures is that MAKO does not use cutting blocks.
Copyright KPLC 2017. All rights reserved.