Henry Ford Health System Expands Robot-Assisted Surgery for Knee Replacements

knee surgery robot
Robot-assisted knee replacement surgery is now available at six Henry Ford Health System locations. Photo courtesy of Henry Ford Health System

Robot-assisted knee replacement surgery now is being offered at six Henry Ford Health System locations. The new technology offers improved alignment accuracy, though the long-term benefits are unknown.

Zimmer Biomet’s ROSA robotic knee system is available at Henry Ford Hospital, Henry Ford Allegiance Health, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital and Henry Ford Medical Center-Cottage in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Robotic technology for joint replacement surgery originally was introduced three years ago at Henry Ford West Bloomfield, which began using Stryker’s Mako robotic system for partial knee replacements and hip replacements.

“Using robotic guidance technology is a new tool to perform the surgery, and it’s been shown to improve the accuracy for positioning the knee implant,” says Dr. Robb Weir, vice chair of Henry Ford’s adult reconstruction division and chief of orthopedic surgery at Henry Ford West Bloomfield. “The technology, however, doesn’t change how we perform knee replacement surgery. In this case, the surgeon uses the technology to control and move surgical instruments.”

More than 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. By comparison, at least 300,000 hip replacements are performed annually. Generally, people between the ages of 50 and 80 undergo knee replacement. The average age for both men and women is 66.

During knee replacement surgery, the damaged cartilage and bone are removed from the knee and replaced with a prosthetic implant. The components are made of metal, plastic or ceramic, and the implant mimics the shape and movement of a natural joint.

The robotic approach uses 3-D technology prior to surgery to pinpoint important markers in the knee for prepping the bone for the implant. Using a robotic surgical arm and 3-D technology, the surgeon guides the implant in place while shaping and balancing the bone and ligaments to ensure a proper and precise fit.

After surgery, most Henry Ford knee replacement patients return home the same or next day.

Weir recommends patients discuss with their surgeon whether the robotic approach best meets their needs.

“The alignment you can get and the position of the parts you can get is better with robotic surgery,” he says.

Whether robotic surgery results in better outcomes, pain relief, recovery and patient satisfaction is unknown currently, absent long-term clinical studies comparing robotic surgery to the traditional approach.

“The hope is that improved accuracy means greater longevity,” Weir says.