Robotic knee surgery

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
April 16, 2008 1:30:46 PM PDT
More than 10 million Americans have osteoarthritis of the knee, which is a painful condition causing swelling, stiffness and loss of mobility. But a new robot is making a smaller incision and getting patients back on their feet in no time. Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlerserberg.

Judy Turner has no problem keeping up. For the past 26 years, she's been camping, hiking and biking with the Girl Scouts. But in the last year, painful osteoarthritis in her knee made it difficult.

"It got really hard," she said. "I mean I couldn't, certainly couldn't run. And walking, I was always afraid I was going to trip."

Fed up, Turner sought help. And just three weeks ago, she underwent partial knee resurfacing...from a robot.

"It acts like new cartilage," said Dr. Richard Mevitt, an orthopedic surgeon at Doctors Hospital in Miami. "It works very well. It alleviates the pain, the swelling, the deformity and really can cure the symptoms of arthritis."

Using a small, three- to four-inch incision, the Mako robot makes exact cuts in the bone and tissue, then places an implant to cushion the bones by replacing missing cartilage. It's much more precise than a doctor's hands.

"The more precisely the implant is put in the knee, the better the results and the longer the implant will last," Dr. Levitt said.

He says with this technique, the implant should last at least 10 to 15 years. Because the incision is smaller and the surgery less invasive, recovery time is faster than traditional surgery. Turner was back on her feet the day after her surgery.

"I was surprised," she said. "I didn't think I would be walking that quickly, though he told me I would."

The Mako is only for patients needing partial knee resurfacing, though Dr. Levitt says the technology should be available for full knee resurfacing in the next few years.


Dr. Richard Levitt,
Orthopaedic Institute of South Florida
(786) 308-3350
MAKO Surgical Corp.