Advancing Knee Replacement Surgery

Our orthopaedic specialists are at the forefront of the latest advancements in total knee replacement surgery — including robotic arm-assisted technology.

This innovative approach, called Mako total knee replacement surgery, provides patients with a personalized surgical solution based on their diagnosis and anatomy. Advantages over traditional total knee replacement surgery include:

  • Less invasive procedure

  • More precise alignment of the implant

  • Reduction in the amount of bone removed

  • More natural circular motion

  • Less disruption to soft tissue around the knee

How Does Mako Work?

A CT scan of the knee joint generates a 3D model of the patient’s unique anatomy. Our orthopaedic surgeons use this model, along with sophisticated software, to create each patient’s pre-operative plan. In the operating room, the surgeon guides the robotic arm to remove diseased bone and cartilage, and then inserts a total knee implant. The Mako system allows the surgeon to make adjustments, if necessary, during the procedure.

Our knees are the largest joints in our bodies. They're central to almost everything we do. So if you or a loved one is suffering from arthritis or an injury to the knee, everyday activities such as walking, sitting, or kneeling can feel debilitating.

But you're not alone. It's one of the nation's most common causes of disability and impacts the lives of 54 million people in the United States alone. One possible treatment option for knee pain is total knee replacement, a procedure that involves removing the damaged bone and cartilage then replacing the knee joint with an implant to reduce pain and restore the motion and function of the knee.

Today, knee replacement surgeries are being combined with a new technology. And it's changing the way knee pain sufferers are treated. Meet Mako, a robotic arm assisted technology used by surgeons to perform total knee replacements. This unique technology helps surgeons provide a personalized surgical experience where each surgical plan is based on a patient's specific diagnosis and anatomy.

And in a laboratory study, Mako Total Knee enabled surgeons to execute their plans more accurately while also protecting soft tissue and ligaments from damage. Let's take a look at how it works. It begins with a CT scan of the knee joint. A CT scan is a series of x-rays taken at different angles that can help surgeons see things that they can't typically see with an X-ray alone.

The CT scan data is used to generate a 3D virtual model of the patient's unique anatomy. This virtual model is unloaded into the Mako system software and is used to create the personalized preoperative plan. Prior to surgery, the surgeon reviews the planned size and placement of the implant and, if necessary, modifies the preoperative plan in order to better position the implant to the patient's unique anatomy.

During surgery, the surgeon locates points on the knee in order to register the anatomy in the Mako system. This process establishes the relationship between the patient's actual anatomy in the operating room and the 3D model that was used during the planning process. This step helps ensure the procedure is executed to plan.

Once the anatomy is registered to the 3D model, the surgeon has the flexibility to modify the preoperative plan based on their assessment of the patient's anatomy and range of motion. Then the surgeon guides the robotic arm to remove the arthritic bone and cartilage from the knee. A virtual boundary provides tactile resistance to prevent the surgeon from removing more than just the arthritic bone identified in the pre-operative plan.

And visual cues shown in green appear on screen to show how much bone to remove. Collectively, these cues help the surgeons stay on the preoperative surgical plan. With the diseased bone gone, a knee implant is inserted into the joint space. And once the surgeon is comfortable with the knee's movement, it's off to the recovery room to begin the journey toward strengthening the knee joint.

Joint Replacement Education Class

There is wide range of specialists at the University of Chicago who specialize in simple arthritic issues, also complex arthritic issues, such as total hip and knee revisions, oncological issues, such as tumors of the bone, soft tissue tumors and more.

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