Alexandria company shows how robotic arm improves knee and hip replacements – Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — It was a packed house for Ortho Night Out, a group of presentations that gave information on the latest advances in orthopedics, including a robotic arm.

The event took place May 25 at the Broadway Ballroom and was presented by Heartland Orthopedic Specialists, a service of Alomere Health.

Dr. Dennis Weigel, an orthopedic surgeon who primarily focuses on hip and knee reconstruction, spoke about the Mako robotic arm, which is used in these surgeries.

“If you had told me 22 years ago that I would be using a robot in my hip and knees, I would have told you you were crazy, but it has really brought immense benefits to all of our patients for accuracy improved that it allows,” Weigel said.

The facility has two robotic arms, he said.

“Basically it’s a base with an arm, and the arm attaches to the instruments that we use to replace the hip or the knee,” Weigel said. “We are still doing the surgery. We are not sitting in bathrobes drinking coffee in front of a computer. It is a tool, and a very precise and wonderful tool that we use.

“The benefit this gives us as surgeons (is) precision, which then translates into better recovery for our patients,” he said.

Most patients can go home soon after their surgery, which Weigel says is a big change from when he started in 2000, when patients stayed seven to 10 days in the hospital.

“Now their dwell time is around 30 hours,” he said.

By using the robotic arm, knee patients experience less swelling, surgeons don’t need to instrument bones as much, and soft tissues are treated a little more gently than with manual techniques, Weigel said.

For hip replacements, the robot allows surgeons to very accurately assess leg length, Weigel said.

“(In the past) we were measuring on regions, not points, and so there were people who sometimes had one leg a little longer than the other,” he said. “The robot allows us to assess leg length very accurately, so we don’t have to compromise so much.”

When it comes to setting up the hold, the robot can dial in the hold accurately every time, Weigel said. “It’s like shooting with a high quality scope versus open sights,” he said. “Yeah, you can probably hit the target once in a while…but if you shoot a good scope with a high powered rifle, you’re going to hit the bullseye.”

Weigel said he sees the robotic arm as the evolution of joint replacement surgery and encouraged people with problems to seek treatment.

“If you’re having trouble, come in, get seen, try to figure out what the problem is, then talk about the options,” he said.

Dr. Emily Monroe and Dr. Eric Nelson also presented at the event.


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