New Robotic Knee Surgery Decreases Recovery Time

Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center Robotic surgery/photo by Maureen Dyman

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.”


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  1. Many people don’t realize that the improper biomechanics start from the hip being too tight, pulling on the tendons and muscles of the legs and causing the knees to collapse in or out improperly.
    Any physiotherapist or good trainer will tell you increasing mobility of the hips and muscles attached can immediatly reduce strain on knees.

    Mobility first, exercise second then everything else good will follow

  2. I’m almost sure changing the kind of blade you use (overall shape, materials, how the contact surface between the blade and the skin is assembled and sharpened, …), changing the temperature (freezing, warming, setting a different room temperature…), preparing the skin with different chemicals absorbed by the skin and other small changes can improve recovery times on the surface and maybe inside the body.
    There was some research about synthetic cartilages for replacements in joints using minimally intrusive surgeries too.

  3. What great news! Another VA guinea pig test using more orthopedic bullshit.

    A machine can . . . decrease the recovery time in a Patient’s natural healing process?!? Do tell!

    The bone is sawed through, a prosthetic knee is placed, and the patient’s body heals faster? “Decrease in recovery time.” WOW — such a broad ADVERTISING STATEMENT — which is FALSE, but, what do I know? If the FDA wasn’t so busy, I’d say this is a good example of VA Snake Oil.

    DECREASE KNEE SURGERY RECOVERY TIME <——————– what KNEE GODS have emerged in Houston?? Where do I pay tribute? Here'a my first born male child . . . {rolling eyes}

    Them and their mighty ROBOTIC machine.

    I'm not sure who I feel more pity. The Patients that believe this medical babble about their recovery time being reduced because Dr. Roboto has geared up, or the doctors and medical professionals who believe this bullshit — and they went to medical school!

    How does a "ROBOTIC" knee surgery accelerate . . .
    recovery time??

    I'd love to read about this robot medical machine. Please forward the scholarly, well-respected journal. It's found in the New England Journal of Medicine?

    Since the VA is not nationally revered for their patient standard of care, it really is no surprise to me that orthopedic surgeons would, actually, rely on a ROBOT to not only perform the procedure . . . but then . . . think it's going to DECREASE recovery time.
    The body heals at its own pace, no?

    Physicians . . . heal thyself

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