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Are You a Candidate for Robot-assisted Knee Surgery?

Published on Oct. 26, 2021

Many of us struggle with chronic knee pain here in northern Michigan. Maybe it’s from an old injury. Or in some cases it’s just age and arthritis slowing you down.

Surgery should be a last resort. But if conservative treatments aren’t helping, you may think about turning in your worn-out knees for new ones.

When you’re considering surgery, a robotic-assisted knee replacement just might be for you. Munson Healthcare is now offering these state-of-the-art procedures at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital and at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. The benefits are many.

If you’re living with knee pain, robot-assisted knee surgery just might be for you.


What is robot-assisted knee surgery?

Robot-assisted surgery doesn’t mean a machine does your procedure. It means surgical specialists use advanced ROSA technology to provide a more accurate surgical experience.

“Using robot-assisted technology is a much more precise way of performing knee surgery,” said Michael VanWagner, DO, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon. “This technology allows us to map your anatomy and understand how it behaves throughout a range of motion. The robot assistant processes this information to help us create and execute a custom surgical plan that’s unique to you.”

During the procedure, a camera and optical trackers will share exactly where your knee is located within the three-dimensional operating space. This allows your surgeon to adjust the surgical map in real time to improve your joint alignment, balance and customize your knee.

It’s important to understand that the robot does not operate on its own. It does not move unless your surgeon prompts it to. Your surgeon is still in the operating room and making all of the decisions during the entire surgery.

Benefits of robot-assisted surgery include:

  • Better accuracy and precision compared to traditional total knee replacement
  • Potential for less soft-tissue stress during the surgery, which could lead to less post-operative pain
  • Ability to perform knee replacement surgery on knees with severe deformity and pre-existing hardware

And above all, these robot-assisted surgery can lead to faster recovery.


Preparing for robot-assisted knee surgery

Surgeons like Dr. VanWagner can help educate you about robot-assisted surgery and its risks and benefits. Before deciding on robot-assisted surgery, here are a few important to-dos:

  • Talk with your surgeon about the procedure. It's important to know the risks and benefits of robotic surgery and other approaches. There will be different risks depending on what surgery you need.   
  • Ask how many surgeries the surgeon and the team have done. In general, the success of robotic surgery depends on the skill and experience of the surgeon. Surgeons and surgical teams who perform robotic surgery should be specially trained and certified in using the technology.
  • Contact your health insurance company. Your insurance company can tell you if the procedure is covered. Also, find out how much you may need to pay out of pocket.
  • Think about aftercare. Once your surgery is complete, you’ll need some amount of rehabilitation and recovery. Munson Healthcare specialists can coordinate your aftercare with our close-to-home Mary Free Bed rehab experts.

Scheduling your robot-assisted knee surgery

Almost 90 percent of patients report good to excellent results after undergoing knee replacement surgery. They find relief from chronic pain and can return to the activities they love to do.

“Bringing this technology to northern Michigan is wonderful for our community,” VanWagner said. We have been performing robotic-assisted total joint replacement surgery in this country for years, and the number of robotic cases continues to increase as more communities gain access to this technology.”

“This is precision you can feel.”

VanWagner is performing robotic assisted knee replacement surgery routinely at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital and Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. Visit us online or ask your primary care provider if a robotic procedure is right for you.

Learn More About Robotic Assisted Knee Surgery