CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Using a robot to perform knee or hip replacement surgery? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.
In fact, one Charlotte hospital is using cutting edge technology that's been a game changer in the field of orthopedic surgery. Orthopedic surgeons at Novant Health’s Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital are using a robot to improve the accuracy and precision of knee and hip replacement surgeries.
Novant gave WBTV some incredible access and we spent several hours in an operating room with Dr. David Homesley to see the Mako robot in action. My photographer and I had to wear scrubs and we even had to sanitize our camera equipment before we could enter the O.R.
It was fascinating to see how precise the robot is. For Ann Smith, a 45 year old wife and mom who lives in Charlotte, it was the reason she decided to go with Homesley and his team. “"I mean, the - the robot is really why I chose to go with him because it's very innovative and it's the best chance of me never have to get another surgery,” she said and she recalled traveling as far away as Chicago to have a consultation with a surgeon.
But in the three months since having knee replacement surgery, she’s surprised to see the progress she’s made. "I mean two months after I played my first 18 holes of golf, which was really exciting." Exciting because she'd been dreading the surgery ever since a doctor told her a decade ago the surgery was inevitable - after lingering complications from an old college injury. "And that of course was a big bummer because I'm only 45 years old," Smith said. “Then, last year my back went out because of my knee and I realized that I had to do it.”
Dr. Homesley, who’s performed more than 100 knee replacement surgeries using the Mako robot since last fall, says that innovation Smith spoke of is key -- especially when it comes to the added precision the robot gives him. “What I like about the robot is I can actually look on the screen and see how straight the knee is, how much bend I have, and if I need to go back and tweak something, we just entered the data back in there and then the cuts are just as accurate as if we did them before,” he explained.
In fact, before a single cut is made - the robot takes the 15 year veteran and his team through a thorough process of nearly 50 check points along the patient’s knee and lower leg to make sure the implant will be as effective as possible. “Cause nothing is as good as what God gave you and the biomechanics of a - of a normal knee is really hard to reproduce with a total knee,” he said.
Still, the technology is making a substantial difference - especially for patients like Smith- on whom he tried so many treatments before finally turning to surgery.
“You know, we tried everything from steroids shots, physical therapy, lubricating injections and it was really affecting her quality of life to the point that she was having trouble just going up and down stairs,” recalled Homesley.
But thanks to the Mako robot and Homesley’s expertise, Smith’s hope of being back on the tennis court has been renewed.
"It doesn’t feel like my old knee yet,” she said. “But I can already tell that it’s stronger than my old knee. "