Robotic-assisted total knee replacement surgery: What to expect

By Edward M. Jaffe, M.D., M.B.A.

Robotic-assisted total knee replacement surgery: What to expect
By Edward M. Jaffe, M.D., M.B.A.


 

What is total knee replacement?

Despite its name, total knee replacement surgery doesn’t replace the whole knee. It actually provides new surfaces to worn out surfaces of an arthritic knee joint. The operation has been around for many years and has given millions of people pain relief and significant improvement in functioning.

How has total knee replacement surgery changed over the years?

For 25 years, I’ve been in private practice at The Orthopedic Institute doing total knee replacements. In all of my time here, the biggest advancement I’ve seen is in robotic-assisted total knee replacements.

There’s more to a knee replacement than replacing worn out surfaces: The new surfaces also must be well-positioned, aligned and balanced. Robotic-assisted surgery in total knee replacement helps achieve that balance better than traditional surgical techniques.

The advent of robotic-assisted total knee replacement is such an important advancement in orthopedics because it enables greater surgical precision and a better-balanced knee joint. This is one of the most important factors in a successful outcome. I see robotic-assisted knee replacement leading to faster recovery times and better results. I perform robotic-assisted surgery on a regular basis, and this technique leads to shorter — or in some cases, eliminated — hospital stays and faster recovery times.

My patients frequently show up in the clinic four weeks after surgery walking unassisted and without pain. This was much less common with my patients before robotic assistance. Robotic-assisted total knee replacement can also lead to improved safety and reduced risk of injury to adjacent tissues and better long-term outcomes.

“I was just floored by the recovery time and how far they’ve come with the technology behind this procedure.”

– Martha Tanner
Left and right total knee patient

Who is an ideal candidate for total knee replacement?

Most patients are between 50 and 80-years-old, but that age range occasionally can be younger or older depending on the particular circumstances.

I prefer not to do total knee replacement surgery on young patients because it’s thought that they eventually may need a revision procedure. That said, if a patient is debilitated at a relatively young age, we may consider them for knee replacement. The age range also could be extended younger because the components used with newer techniques may last longer.

On the other hand, when determining if an older patient is a good candidate for the operation, we carefully consider their general health with the assistance of their primary care physician and other specialists involved in their care.

Total knee replacement is a major surgery, and as with any surgery, complications are possible. Making sure that a patient is an appropriate candidate for the operation and is medically optimized for success is a primary point of emphasis in modern orthopedics.

When is it time to see a physician?

If you are walking with a limp, if it’s painful to walk or if you’re having trouble performing what would otherwise be normal weight-bearing activities, you should schedule an appointment to be evaluated. If symptoms are having a negative impact on your daily quality of life and your X-rays and exam show advanced arthritis, it may be time to consider knee surgery.

What are the expected recovery times?

After a brief stay in the hospital, patients typically require one to three months of physical therapy to return to normal functioning with pain-free walking.

“You do not know how much pain you’re living with until it is gone.”

– Cynthia Holbrook
Left and right total knee patient

To learn more or request an appointment, please contact us.

Edward M. Jaffe, M.D., M.B.A., is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Jaffe practices at TOI’s Gainesville and Alachua facilities.