New Technology Lends a Robotic Hand

By Sam Phillips

MAKOplasty technology — featuring a robotic arm that allows surgeons to perform precise operations — was on DSC_9878CMYKdisplay in Ward Beecher Hall on Friday.

A team of surgeons used the technology to perform a hip replacement surgery on a cadaver while Youngstown State University students observed. They answered questions about the equipment following the procedure.

Northside Medical Center has performed nine surgeries using MAKOplasty.

Raymond Duffett, an orthopedic surgeon and physician to YSU athletic teams, said MAKOplasty helps with hip replacements in patients with arthritis or degenerative joint disease. They place landmark points on the hip socket and a 3-D image is rendered on a computer. Then surgeons can see exactly where they need to ream the socket to create a perfect hemisphere.

He said ideally the robotic arm reproduces the same result every time. Being off by a few millimeters can cause the hip replacement to wear out more quickly. The technology ensures the surgery is a more permanent solution.

“We’re trying to get that one [perfect] operation,” he said. “That operation that’s not going to wear out, that’s not going to have a complication and, of course, we think maybe this is a step in the right direction.”

Hip replacements typically last for about 25 years, which is an improvement from when Duffett started his practice 30 years ago. MAKOplasty is intended to extend the life even further.

Another advantage is the prevention of causing pelvic damage by reaming too deep into the socket. The cartilage is green on the screen, and when surgeons get too close it turns red.

David Weimer, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Elizabeth Health Center and Northside Medical Center, said there is a positive outlook for the technology.

“I think this is going to continue to grow in popularity,” he said. “I think more and more cases will be done with robotic assistance. Originally this started with prostate surgery, and now its application has expanded into orthopedics.”

Weimer said using MAKOplasty takes longer because there is more technical work involved, but the more cases you do, the faster you learn how to use it.

“It’s more accurate and it gives you real time information so it can be more consistent case to case,” he said. “Everyone’s anatomy is a little bit different, and this helps you map their anatomy.”

Stryker Corp., one of the world’s leading medical technology firms, provided the MAKOplasty robot and the cadaver for the demonstration at YSU.

Duffett hopes that students will be inspired by the demonstration and told them not to be discouraged by changes in the field.

“It’s a tough road — 14 years from the start until you see your first patient,” Duffett said. “But I would do it all over again.”