Margaret Riley was disappointed when her knee replacement surgery was postponed in June due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet there was a silver lining.
Last Friday, the 87-year-old became one of the first patients to undergo the operation using cutting-edge robotic technology right here in the Illawarra.
Wollongong Private Hospital is the first hospital in the region to offer the minimally invasive surgery for full or partial knee replacements after acquiring the $1 million MAKO Robot by Stryker.
South Coast orthopedic surgeon Dr Paul Jarman, who has a practice in Nowra, has been using the technology in Sydney hospitals for 18 months, and is excited that his patients can now access it closer to home.
"This is the first time the technology has been available in the Illawarra," he said.
"It's a robot that allows us to do joint replacements in a fashion that is more precise and accurate, while providing the optimal protection for soft tissue around the joint.
"Because there's less damage to the ligaments and tendons, there's less pain afterwards, so patients recover quicker and spend less time in hospital."
Dr Jarman said the technology allowed specialists to pre-plan each patient's surgery using sophisticated software, and then perform the operation by guiding the robotic arm to precisely remove bone and cartilage.
The patient has a CAT scan which gets analysed and then we can put an individualised surgical plan together, and feed the plan into the robot.Orthopedic surgeon Dr Paul Jarman
"The patient has a CAT scan which gets analysed and then we can put an individualised surgical plan together, and feed the plan into the robot," he said.
"It's a very precise system - it weighs half a tonne but it has a tolerance of 0.75mm - if you are out any more than that, it will not allow you to proceed."
Mrs Riley, who lives in Shoalhaven Heads, waited for her surgery for seven months due to the nationwide temporary shutdown in elective surgery during the COVID crisis. But she's now glad she did.
"I was disappointed when my surgery was cancelled in June, and my condition deteriorated quite a lot," she said.
"My knee was aching all the time - whether I was sitting or standing - and I had to rely on everyone else to do my shopping or other errands for me.
"I've had two hip replacements and spent at least seven days in hospital for them, but with this new technology I'm out in just a few and on my way to rehab.
"Recovery is shorter and pain is less, so that's the benefit."
The story New $1M robotic arm gives Illawarra orthopedic surgeon higher degree of precision first appeared on the Illawarra Mercury.
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