The 'perfect' robotic application for orthopedic surgery


Wisconsin orthopedic surgeon David Eggert, MD, began performing robotic-assisted joint replacements five years ago after the launch of Stryker's Mako system and has been impressed with the robot's application for complex cases, according to the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

One such case was a hip replacement on a woman who previously had 40 screws placed in her pelvis after she fell and broke her acetabulum. She experienced a lot of pain and developed arthritis after her initial surgery, according to the report.

The complex revision procedure, performed three years ago, was the "perfect application for the robot," according to Dr. Eggert, who practices at Orthopedic & Sports Institute of the Fox Valley in Appleton, Wis.

Using the Mako robot, the surgeon created a scan of the patient that showed where the 40 screws were and how to maneuver the components to avoid them.

"The issue with making contact with a screw is that it could potentially create an electrical charge, and that could cause loosening of the new joint," Dr. Eggert told the Press. "We could move the components a millimeter this way, 2 millimeters that way, so we avoided every screw."

Dr. Eggert said the surgery would have been possible without the robot, but with so many screws and a small margin for error, the precision of the robot proved beneficial.

"Can you do it [without the robot]? Sure. But let's say that you start hitting screws. What do you do? You compromise your plan because you've hit these screws, so it's going to be at increased risk of dislocation," he said. "It's been shown that dislocation rates are lower when using the robot."

Orthopedic & Sports Institute of the Fox Valley was the first surgery center to offer Mako robotic-assisted surgery in Northeast Wisconsin. The practice went from performing 150 surgeries a year with the robot in 2017 to nearly 1,500 per year, according to the Press.

Dr. Eggert performs between 200 and 225 surgeries a year with the Mako robot.

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