DuBois, PA – Penn Highlands showed off their Mako SmartRobotics Joint Replacement robot yesterday, a new tool that allows for a quicker surgery, more precise cuts, more personalized knee and hip replacements, and a faster recovery time.

Dr. Matt Varacallo, the director of orthopedic robotic surgery at Penn Highlands, was part of Contact with Joe Taylor on Thursday, explaining how the robotic tool works and why it’s so innovative.

Check out the video with Dr. Matt Varacallo.

Does Penn Highlands Offer Mako SmartRobotics™ Robotic Joint Replacement Surgery?

Yes, Penn Highlands Healthcare is the first health system in North Central/Western Pennsylvania to offer the Mako SmartRoboticTM surgery.

Penn Highlands Healthcare offers Mako SmartRobotic arm-assisted joint replacement surgery by highly trained orthopedic surgeons at Penn Highlands ClearfieldPenn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Elk for knee replacement, partial knee replacement and hip replacement surgery.

Meet your Mako-certified Orthopedic Team at Penn Highlands.

What is Mako SmartRoboticsTM?

Mako SmartRoboticsTM is an innovative surgical solution for many people suffering from painful arthritis or degeneration of the knee or hip. The Mako robot uses 3D CT-based planning software so your Penn Highlands Orthopedics surgeon can know more, and cut less. That is, the CT-scan helps your orthopedic surgeon understand more about your unique anatomy to create a joint replacement surgical plan that is extraordinarily advanced in precision and customization to your body. This 3D model is used to pre plan and assist your surgeon in performing your partial knee replacement.

In the operating room, your Penn Highlands Orthopedic surgeon follows your personalized surgical plan while preparing the bone for the implant. The surgeon guides Mako’s robotic arm within the predefined area, and Mako’s AccuStop technology helps the orthopedic surgeon stay within the planned boundaries that were defined when your personalized preoperative plan was created. By guiding your doctor during surgery, Mako’s AccuStop technology allows your orthopedic surgeon to cut less by cutting precisely what’s planned to help protect your healthy bone.

It’s important to understand that the surgery is performed by an orthopedic surgeon, who guides Mako’s robotic arm during the surgery to position the implant in the knee joint. This means Mako Smart Robot does not perform surgery, make decisions on its own or move without your surgeon’s guidance. Mako SmartRoboticsTM also allows your surgeon to make adjustments to your plan during surgery as needed.

Does the Robot Perform the Surgery?

No! The specially trained orthopedic surgeons perform surgery using the Mako surgical robot. The surgeon uses the Mako robot’s 3D CT-based planning software to help them better understand more about your unique anatomy to create a joint replacement surgical plan that is extraordinarily advanced in precision and customization to your body.

How does Mako SmartRoboticsTM Work for my Hip Replacement or Knee Replacement?

By the time you research joint replacement surgery, we know you’re ready for relief. That’s why we are thrilled to be the only healthcare organization in our region to offer joint replacement surgery with the Mako SmartRoboticsTM.

Often known as “Mako” (pronounced MAY-ko), Mako SmartRoboticsTM is an innovative technological solution that’s unique from other joint replacement procedures because it begins with your CT scan to allow your surgeon to create a personalized plan based on your unique anatomy as displayed in a virtual model of your joint. This 3D model is used to preplan and assist your joint replacement surgeon in performing your total knee replacement. Your surgeon can target and plan his or her surgical maneuvers before even making the first incision.

The robotic arm assists your surgeon as it is guided by haptic technology that limits the arm within the virtual boundaries. The surgeon guides Mako’s robotic arm within the predefined area, and Mako’s AccuStop haptic technology limits the arm within the boundaries that were defined when the personalized preoperative plan was created. By guiding your doctor during surgery, Mako’s AccuStop technology allows your surgeon to cut less by cutting precisely what’s planned to help protect your healthy bone and preserve soft tissue.

The result is fewer, smaller incisions, less blood loss, protection of healthy bone, and ultimately faster recovery—all to provide you with permanent relief from your knee pain so you can get back to what you love.

Note Mako’s robotic arm during the surgery to position the implant in the knee joint. Mako SmartRoboticTM does not perform surgery, make decisions on its own or move without the surgeon guiding it. Mako SmartRoboticsTM also allows your surgeon to make adjustments to your plan during surgery as needed.

What Surgery Options are Available with the Mako Surgical Robot?

Total knee replacement and Partial Knee Replacement

Depending on where the arthritis affects the knee, patients may have an implant inserted in any of the following areas: bicompartmental, medial, patellofemoral and lateral.

Hip Replacement

Hip replacement surgery may be performed using the Mako Robot the Direct Anterior Approach, a minimally invasive surgical technique used in total hip replacement. This technique may be associated with:

  • reduced muscle damage
  • reduced pain
  • faster post-operative recovery

What are the differences between the Direct Anterior Approach and a traditional hip replacement?

One difference is the location of the incision. During a traditional hip replacement, the surgeon will operate on the patient from the side. Using the Direct Anterior Approach, the surgeon operates on the patient from the front. Another difference is the length of the incision. Traditional hip replacement may require an 10-12 inch incision while the incision used in the Direct Anterior Approach may be 3-4 inches in length.

Direct Superior Approach

Your surgery may be performed using the Direct Superior Approach, a minimally invasive surgical technique used in total hip replacement. This technique may be associated with:

  • Reduced muscle damage
  • Smaller incision size
  • Enhanced post-operative recover

What are the differences between the Direct Superior Approach and a traditional hip replacement? One difference is the location of the incision. During a traditional hip replacement, the surgeon will make an incision through the IT band, which is a muscle that extends down the outside of your leg from the pelvis to the knee. In a Direct Superior procedure, the surgeon avoids cutting the IT band.Another difference is the length of the incision. Traditional hip replacement may require an 10-12 inch incision while the incision used in the Direct Superior Approach may be 3-6 inches in length.

Learn more about Penn Highlands Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Program.

Where can I have my Mako SmartRobotics™ surgery?

Mako SmartRoboticsTM robotic arm-assisted surgery is available from the Orthopedics Surgeons at Penn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Clearfield for joint replacements.

Penn Highlands Healthcare offers advanced orthopedics and sports medicine with comprehensive rehabilitation including physical, speech and occupational therapy.