Precise Robotic Knee Surgery at Houston VA Fast-Tracks Veteran Recovery
by Maureen Dyman, Communications Director, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center
HOUSTON, TEXAS (October 30, 2019) – New robotic technology at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston is ensuring Veterans undergoing knee replacement surgeries experience less pain and recover faster.
Last week, David M. Green, M.D., M.S. and Melvyn A. Harrington, Jr., M.D., orthopedic surgeons at the Houston VA, performed the VA’s first total knee replacement using the Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted technology.
The patient, a 73-year-old Navy Veteran, is recovering nicely.
“We do more than 400 knee replacements at the Houston VA every year,” said Green, who is also board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. “This new technology will allow us to perform these surgeries with even more precision. It allows for more precise bone preparation, less soft tissue injury and potentially a less painful and speedier recovery for our Veterans.”
The new technology creates a 3-D virtual model of each patient’s bone anatomy, allowing surgeons to map out the procedure beforehand and size the implant perfectly by using the Veteran’s computed tomography (CT) scan. Surgeons use the virtual model to practice placing the implants or artificial joints in precisely the right location, making adjustments as necessary. The technology provides a personalized surgical plan for each Veteran, based on their unique anatomy.
“The 3-D model simulates how a knee will move and act once an implant is in place,” said Harrington, who is also an associate professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. “Once the virtual model is complete, we use the robotic arm to perform the bone cuts so the implant can be precisely placed.”
The most common cause of knee pain in older adults is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that causes the deterioration of joint cartilage and surrounding bones in the knees. When osteoarthritis of the knees becomes severe, normal activities like walking or going up stairs can become painful or nearly impossible. Knee replacement surgeries can offer Veterans a solution to this pain and improve their quality of life.
Houston VA doctors are thrilled to be able to use this state-of-the-art technology to improve recovery time for Veterans with limited mobility who are often in a great deal of pain.
“We are committed to offering our Veterans the best care along with the latest technology,” said Green. “They deserve nothing but the best, and we are proud to give it to them.”