The country’s first robot-assisted partial knee replacement surgery was performed successfully last month.
Drainlayer Adam Squire was the first to have the ground-breaking operation at North Shore Hospital on August 15.
He went home the day after surgery and two weeks later he was back at work driving a digger and had already done a 5km walk.
“I understand that surgery without the robot usually may mean at least a month off work,” he said. “To be back driving a digger in just two weeks was incredible.”
Waitemata District Health Board orthopaedics clinical director Matthew Walker performed the operation and was thrilled with the result.
“The robot allows consistently accurate placement of implants which ultimately means better outcomes for patients,” he said.
“It reduces the magnitude of the surgery and improves the longevity of the implant, resulting in a shorter stay in hospital, earlier mobilisation, less pain, a greater short to mid-term outcome and increased patient satisfaction.”
The robot used was the Mako Unicompartmental Knee Replacement system developed in the US by Mako Surgical Corporation in 2005 and was now owned and made by Stryker.
There are more than 300 units around the world and it has been successfully used in Australia since 2015.
Walker said the technology was a game-changer and would be a better option for many people who would usually have no choice but to have full knee replacements.
“It enables surgeons to tackle more challenging procedures with a higher comfort level and provides a less painful treatment option for patients with common knee diseases,” he said.
“The smaller implant required for a UKR also means the costs of surgery are reduced. That means we have more resource to divert towards other patients.”
Squire’s surgery was the first of about 60 which will be carried out, as part of a study designed to compare results with current practise.
Those involved in the study will have check-ups over the next 10 years to allow results to be compared against the same number of people who had total knee replacements.
Waitemata DHB chief executive Dr Dale Bramley said the project was part of an ongoing drive to relieve suffering, reduce inequalities and promote wellness through better use of innovation and technology.
“This kind of technology is predominately only available in the private health sector overseas so we are very happy to be able to offer it to our community as a whole,” he said.
“To have a patient on his feet and back at work in such a short time after an operation like this is quite remarkable.”
The DHB’s fundraising arm, the Well Foundation, the Ted and Molly Carr Trust, the Lion Foundation and the Freemasons all contributed to purchasing the new machine.
About surgery with the Mako UKR system
- The human knee consists of three main compartments and the system aims to replace just one part of a damaged knee.
- This means the implant is smaller and the surgery less invasive.
- Precise placement is difficult to achieve consistently without robotic assistance.