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The Minimally-Invasive Surgery That Can Save Your Knees

Dealing with knee pain can be extremely difficult and limiting. The good news is that today there are conservative and surgical options for treating knee pain that can help get you back up on your feet quickly. One treatment option is MAKOplasty, a highly advanced and minimally invasive knee surgery that relieves pain caused by osteoarthritis. Read on for details about how this surgery can save your knees.

What is MAKOplasty?

MAKOplasty is a minimally invasive partial knee replacement surgery that is assisted by a robotic arm. Using 3-dimensional computer imaging from a CT scan, doctors can establish the best implant size, position, and alignment for each individual patient and map out the areas of the bone that they want to remove. Basically, the procedure helps take the guesswork out of surgery, which produces more accurate and reproducible results.

MAKOplasty targets the damaged, arthritic part of the knee, preserving the healthy tissue and bone surrounding it. This, plus the fact that the positioning of the knee implant can be more specific to each patient allow for a more natural feeling knee once healed.

What Does it Treat?

MAKOplasty can relieve knee pain caused by joint degeneration in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis and it occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints breaks down, causing the bones to rub against each other. MAKOplasty treats patients suffering from early to midstage arthritis in the medial (inner), patellofemoral (top), or lateral (outer) compartments of the knee. If during surgery the surgeon finds that there is more damage than found in the original CT scan, a total knee replacement surgery may be necessary.

What to Expect

If you are a MAKOplasty patient, a physician will discuss any risks of the procedure with you and a surgeon will go over any pre-operative and post-operative instructions. MAKOplasty can require as small as a 4-6 inch incision over the knee with a small incision in the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin).

Because it is minimally invasive, research shows patients recover quicker and spend less time in the hospital than those who have traditional total knee replacement surgery. Hospital stays after the procedure are between one and three days. MAKOplasty patients are often able to walk soon after surgery, drive a car within two weeks of surgery, and return to regular activities not long after that.  Short-term results from a survivorship study indicate that implants placed with the robotic arm have a .4% failure rate as opposed to 4% of implants placed manually. Additionally, a randomized controlled trial showed that MAKOplasty patients experience less pain during the first week after surgery than do patients who had total knee replacement surgery after two months.

Still have questions? Be sure to tune into the next Abington Health Web Chat on Tuesday, March 24 at 6 p.m. with Dr. Andrew Star, Medical Director of Abington Health’s Orthopedic and Spine Institute. He will answer questions on knee pain, both conservative and surgical treatments for knee pain as well as MAKOplasty. The chat will be moderated by Lu Ann Cahn, Director of Career Services at Temple University’s School of Media and Communications. Register and ask your confidential questions ahead of time here.