"Patient John," a 64-year-old outdoor educator, walked into San Francisco Surgery Center for a partial knee replacement on April 5, walked out of the center on crutches within 3 hours of surgery and completed a 5-mile hike the next week, all thanks to the robot-guided surgical system that made the minimally invasive procedure possible.
San Francisco Surgery Center is the first ASC to host the outpatient partial knee replacement procedure, which goes by the proprietary name Makoplasty, after the company that makes the robotic technology. For the procedure, orthopedic surgeon Kevin Stone, MD, used CT scans of the patient's anatomy, a computer monitor and a robotic, surgeon-controlled arm to resurface only the diseased portion of the knee, keeping healthy bone and tissue intact. "In the past, surgeons used cutting guides, which at times could not be accurately adjusted in multiple planes on the operating table," explains a press release from the Stone Clinic announcing the achievement.
The computer-assisted technology "means a much greater level of precision and accuracy in a much smaller incision area than I would have had using traditional instruments and techniques," says Dr. Stone. A traditional partial knee replacement also would have required a 1- to 2-day hospital stay. (You can see "Patient John" discuss his surgical experience here.)
SFSC Administrator Jeff Wong admits that the cost of the Makoplasty system approaches 7 figures when you factor in price, insurance, taxes and shipping, while the procedure is reimbursed the same as a traditional partial knee replacement is. But the investment was worthwhile, he says, because of the robot-assisted procedure's ability "to get very precise and consistent results in joint replacement," and to deliver the cost-saving benefit of letting patients return home the same day. "We feel it's something that will pay itself off in a matter of a couple years," he says.
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