Joint replacement is a procedure that should only be carried out by the most well trained and trusted surgeons.
The incredibly precise nature of a new robotic-assisted knee replacement procedure at Parkwest Medical Center is being matched by fellowship-trained surgeons who are precise in every undertaking.
When Bill Seaton learned that his knee replacement could be assisted by a robotic arm, he was impressed. But the real deciding factor was the trust he placed in his surgeon, Brian Covino, MD.
“I was confident I was going to get good care. Technology improves many aspects of our lives,” Seaton says. “The technology allowed Dr. Covino to be more precise in doing what he’s already good at.”
Seaton is 59 years old, the general manager of a local transportation service, and he doesn’t have time to be slowed down by a faulty knee. He became the first patient at Parkwest Medical Center to undergo a robotically assisted knee replacement.
Dr. Covino is co-director of the Joint Replacement Center at Parkwest Medical Center, where surgeons who have ventured into robotic-assisted surgery have been pleased with the results. Dr. Covino was Seaton’s surgeon seven years ago when Seaton had a knee replaced using the traditional method of surgery.
“I was fully confident this was going to be equally as successful,” Seaton says. “I just had to do my part. I trusted his expertise and experience.”
Dr. Covino stresses that joint replacement is still major surgery, and there won’t be a successful outcome if the patient isn’t willing to follow instructions before and after. But for those who are willing to make the commitment, robotic-assisted knee replacement offers some impressive potential advantages.
One of the advantages is that the new procedure can minimize trauma to the soft tissue around the knee. That can mean less pain and an easier recovery.
For the robotic-assisted procedure, a CT scan creates a three-dimensional image of the patient’s knee prior to surgery. Using software to analyze information, the surgeon can precisely determine how to place the new knee in the body, before the first cut is made.
In the operating room, the patient’s ligaments can be tested for mobility and flexibility, and the results are be matched up to the surgeon’s plan. In traditional knee replacement, ligaments have to be physically adjusted after the surgery began.
Robotic-assisted surgery also results in a knee that’s more precisely balanced. “A more balanced knee is going to feel like a more normal knee to a patient, and hopefully it will function better,” Dr. Covino says.
Less damage to the soft tissue and the ability to place a more balanced knee leads to what Dr. Covino hopes will be a third advantage, which is a longer-lasting solution for knee pain.
“That’s obviously something we won’t find out for 20 years-plus,” Dr. Covino says. “But the first two advantages are being seen already.”
Seaton spent years playing a variety of sports. Right now, he’s just looking forward to the simple things in life that he was starting to miss out on.
“It wasn’t comfortable going places where I had to walk a great distance or climb up steps,” Seaton says, “or going to a football game and climbing up and down the ramp.”
He wasn’t able to play golf the way he used to, and there were times when his family altered plans because of his physical limitations. Seaton is a vital and energetic person, but he was starting to feel older than his years.
“You lose out on opportunities to do things,” Seaton says.
Today Seaton is settling into a “new normal” with his new knee, from being able to chase the grandkids to stepping up into his camper on summer adventures. He’s says glad he made the move to have his knee replaced.
Robotic-assisted knee replacement procedures are being performed on people like Seaton, who are active and likely to follow up surgery with the recommended postoperative care, including rigorous physical therapy. As the technology advances, the robotic-assisted procedures may become more widely used, bringing a new level of precision to knee replacement, says Dr. Covino .