The words “robotic surgery” may conjure up visions of a humanoid science-fiction robot in the operating room. But instead, picture a robotic arm, controlled by the surgeon, that performs well in tight spaces and is so precise it causes minimal damage to the surrounding tissues and avoids cutting any muscles around the hip.
The result: fewer complications, less pain after surgery and quicker recovery.
Better technology, better accuracy
Dr. Jordan McCoy, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Mary’s Medical Center, has performed hundreds of robotic-assisted hip and knee surgeries since joining St. Mary’s staff last year, becoming the hospital’s first orthopedic surgeon to perform such surgery.
The process begins with a CT scan of the patient's joint. Doctors use data from the scan to create a very detailed, accurate 3D model and image of the patient's anatomy.
“That allows the surgeon to plan to a level of detail that previously we just didn't have before the surgery ever started,” Dr. McCoy said. “The technology allows us to take that computer-based image and place and position implants exactly where we want them to provide the best range of motion and restore limb alignment. And it allows us to do so extremely accurately.”
The system also allows surgeons to adjust the plan during surgery as needed.
“The robot provides real-time objective feedback and data throughout the surgery,” he added. “So, if we find that we do need to make an adjustment, we're able to. Then we can confirm it was the correct adjustment and get ligaments balanced perfectly.”
A higher level of precision and accuracy can mean less pain after surgery and quicker recovery, Dr. McCoy said. It can also mean fewer complications, including infections.
Highly trained and well-practiced
During his fellowship training to do joint replacement, Dr. McCoy figures he replaced some 600 joints, 400 in robot-assisted surgeries. He learned on a Mako robot and encouraged hospital officials to purchase that brand when they wanted to add robotic surgery to their offerings.
“In the past, technology like this was only accessible at large academic centers or certain institutions,” he said. “I’ve found that the ‘magic’ in their operating rooms is no different than the ‘magic’ here. And there is nothing that we don't have.”
“We have an incredible total joint program at St. Mary's right here in our community, with the most up-to-date technology and techniques,” Dr. McCoy said. “That's something I'm proud to be able to offer patients here.”
Vivian Trouve, a success story
Vivian Trouve, an 84-year-old Grand Junction woman, suffered from hip pain for years. Earlier this year, it was so debilitating that the great-grandmother could no longer do the things she enjoyed — gardening, baking and cooking. And visits to her family decreased. Although she was able to drive, “getting into and out of the car became too painful,” she said. She was nearing the point of needing to sell her house and move to be near her family for their assistance.
All that changed when she went to see Dr. McCoy for her arthritic hips, and he suggested robot-assisted surgery.
In April, Dr. McCoy replaced one of her hips, then the other in July.
Trouve said she is amazed that her surgery was outpatient, her recovery was so fast, and after surgery, she walked into her home without the assistance of a cane or a walker.
"I was getting up and down unassisted the day I came home,” she said. “It was like a miracle.”
Learn more about our robotic-assisted surgery options at stmarygj.org.