By Cherry Odom, BSN, RN, NPD-BC
Boris Kovalenko, MD, a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee replacements at St. Mary’s Health System, answers questions about robotics assisted orthopedic surgery.
What knee surgeries are now being performed using robotic assisted technology at St. Mary’s?
Knee arthroplasty, also known as replacement, is now being done with robotic assistance. Knee replacement is for patients with degenerative joint disease, that affects and limits their lifestyle. This surgery is for patients whose symptoms are no longer managed with supplements, medications, or injections. I use the same criteria selecting patients for robotic assisted knee replacements as I do for the conventional technique. When patients choose the robotic assisted approach, their recovery time is shortened and their pain after surgery can be decreased.
Why is the robotic assisted approach more efficient and more accurate than traditional knee surgery?
The position and balance of a knee replacement are crucial in providing the best patient outcomes. Robotic assistance allows us to map the patient’s individual anatomy and measure ligament tension to optimize the position of a knee implant. We can also take additional steps before the procedure to map out the anatomy of the knee and obtain information about the balance of the surrounding soft tissues throughout the arc of motion. This is unique from person to person and from knee to knee. We are then able to make minuscule alignment adjustments in three dimensions, so we can more perfectly position the implants. As a result, less time is required at the end of the procedure to fine tune the balance of the knee.
Is it true that neither a CT scan nor MRI is required prior to this robotic surgery?
That is correct. X-rays are still required to establish the diagnosis of osteoarthritis, but they are not necessary using the robotic system. Therefore, the surgery is performed without additional radiation.
What are your goals for St Mary’s orthopedic surgical program?
My top priority is to deliver high quality, compassionate care to my patients. In addition, I intend to enhance the positive patient outcomes of our procedures by utilizing modern implants and bringing more advanced technology to our program.
What is your philosophy of care for your patients and their family?
I listen to my patients with respect and empathy. I truly enjoy getting to know them on a personal level. Ultimately, I develop a care plan with their best interest in mind. I consistently ask myself, “What would I do if this were me or one of my family members?” and that helps guide my clinical judgement.
If necessary, be sure to secure a referral from your primary care provider.