For the first time in Africa, a knee surgery was completed with the assistance of a robotic arm. The state-of-the-art Mako robotic arm helped doctors at the Netcare Linksfield Hospital in Johannesburg.
“There is no national register for local total knee replacements currently, but with an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 total knee replacements taking place in South Africa each year, this technology could signal a new era in personalised joint replacement,” said orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Chris McCready, who performed the surgical first.
This robotic arm system has been used for total knee replacements in Europe, the United States and United Kingdom. The system was used for 250,000 procedures internationally in 2018, including knee and hip replacements.
How it works
The robotic arm draws data from a computed tomography (CT) scan of the patient’s knee to develop a three-dimensional pre-operative plan that is unique to each individual.
It optimises the surgery so that each patient receives the most accurate care during the surgery. The arm determines the dimensions for the surgical cuts into the bone so that the best sized implanted joint components can be chosen for the patient and the alignment can be decided in advance.
“During the operation, the robotic arm system provides detailed visual, auditory and tactile feedback to the surgeon, which helps to enhance surgical precision in positioning and aligning the knee implants,” explained McCready.
The surgeon controls the arm at all times and ensures that only areas chosen during the surgical planning are operated on. This acts as a safeguard to protect the patient from damage critical structures in the knee.