Robot Assisted Surgery: It's the Bee's Knees

So you’ve tried it all; physical therapy, medications, injections, but your knees still hurt. It’s time to talk about robot assisted knee replacement.

“In 2017, we were the first to perform robotic assisted complete knee replacement in Nebraska, and made an already great procedure even better,” John Wright, MD, CHI Health Orthopedic Surgeon said. “This revolutionary technology allows us to plan and operate more precisely and decreases the potential for human error.”

A 3D CT scan of the knee allows surgeons to virtually perform the procedure ahead of time, mapping out the optimal size and position for the implants. During surgery, the robot arm acts as a passive alignment tool, ensuring that the bone preparation and implantation of the components are performed according to the preoperative virtual plan.

“I have performed surgery on patients with the robot, and without. The robot assisted ones consistently yield a more solid and balanced knee,” Clayton Thor, MD, CHI Health Orthopedic Surgeon said. “Everything is measured to the smallest millimeter to avoid unnecessary trauma to soft tissue and tendons around the knee.”

With a more tailor made procedure, patients are typically able to rehabilitate and get their range of motion back faster, and have less pain. The robotic assisted approach takes the same amount of time as traditional knee replacement surgery, and the vast majority are done outpatient, with people able to return home the very same day.

“Knee replacement surgery has already been established as one of the most proven and predictable procedures in contemporary medicine,” Dr. Wright said. “Studies have shown time and again how much knee replacement improves the quality of life for patients suffering from knee arthritis, and now robotic technology has made the operation even better.”

With more precise planning, more accurately performed surgery and ever improving implant designs, doctors say it’s likely artificial joints will last longer too.

“I have replaced knees in people ranging from 40-80 years old,” Dr. Thor said. “Age is not a disqualifier. We used to tell people to wait until they were older, but with the improvements to technology, we’re hopeful patients can get up to 30 years with their new knees. There’s no reason to suffer if you’ve tried everything else.”

Anyone who struggles with knee osteoarthritis, who has tried non-surgical treatments without success is a candidate for knee replacement surgery. Virtually anyone who qualifies for traditional surgery can have robotic assistance.

“It’s a great feeling knowing we are able to truly cure people in the operating room,” Dr. Wright said. “I’m a perfectionist, most orthopedic surgeons are, and this technology allows us to control more variables than ever before, and it’s here to stay.”

Clayton Thor, MD

Orthopedic Surgery

John M. Wright, MD

Orthopedic Surgery,
Orthopedic Surgery - Adult Joint Reconstruction,
Orthopedic Surgery - Upper Extremity

Marg Ortegren

“Dr. Wright has worked on both myself and my husband. I was excited about the robot because we both needed revisions from previous surgeries, not by Dr. Wright, and he assured  me the robot would help make it perfect. Our lives have improved immensely. I got back into golf and now I’m able to use a push cart and walk the course again.

I tell everyone that Dr. Wright is the RIGHT choice.”

Marg Ortegren, Kearney, NE

Tim Brungardt

“I played football for Nebraska from 1980-1983 as a running back. My knee pain was so bad that I could only walk for short periods of time. I was overcorrecting so much it created a sciatica nerve problem in my leg and back. Dr. Thor changed my life. My knee is sturdier than it’s ever been and I was putting miles on my bicycle just a few weeks after surgery.

My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner. If I ever need the other knee, or a hip, I’m going back to Dr. Thor.”

Tim Brungardt, Omaha, NE