New Robotic Procedure for Knee Pain Offers Potential for Quicker Recovery

Spectrum Health First in Michigan to Offer MAKOplasty®

Listen to Dr. Golladay discuss MAKOplasty® (mp3, 18MB)

High school teacher Nancy Bruinsma will be ready this September if her students ask her what she did over her summer vacation.

Bruinsma, 56, was one of the first patients in Michigan to undergo MAKOplasty®, a new partial knee replacement surgery that combines surgeon-guided robotic arm technology with three-dimensional computer imaging.

When I teach, I like to incorporate examples of innovation and progress because it’s something I support. It’s exciting to be one of the first patients, said Bruinsma, who hopes to have a video of her surgery to share with interested students. I’m happy that I was out of the hospital in two days and my physical therapist says I am ahead of schedule with my progress.

Spectrum Health’s Center for Joint Replacement at Blodgett Hospital is the first in Michigan to offer MAKOplasty® to adult patients with early to mid-stage knee osteoarthritis. The minimally invasive procedure can relieve knee pain and restore range of motion. It also can result in a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery and a more natural feeling knee after surgery compared with traditional total knee replacement surgery.

The first MAKOplasty® procedure at Spectrum Health was performed in April 2010.

This really is the next level of advancement in joint replacement surgery, said Gregory Golladay, MD, Orthopedic Associates of Michigan surgeon and clinical advisor for Spectrum Health’s joint replacement program. Because Spectrum Health is one of the leaders in the United States in joint replacement in terms of volume and patient outcomes, we are constantly evaluating new procedures as they become available. We always want to do whatever is best for our patients. MAKOplasty® allows us to be more precise and more accurate with a minimal amount of bone loss.

MAKOplasty® partial knee replacement may be an option for patients whose osteoarthritis has not yet affected the entire knee joint. Osteoarthritis, often called “wear and tear” arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when cartilage between the joints breaks down, allowing the bones to rub against each other. This creates stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint. Many osteoarthritis patients eventually turn to knee replacement surgery for relief.

Bruinsma underwent partial knee replacement in her right knee two years ago, using the traditional approach. When she started experiencing severe pain in her left knee, she wanted to improve her quality of life as soon as possible.

I am a very active person and I was missing out on traveling, gardening, walking my dog, and enjoying camping and other activities with my family, she explained. And as a teacher, I need to be on my feet, interacting with my students.  I found myself in a chair most of the time. I’m too young to be so limited. 

Bruinsma said she did her research as she sought an orthopedic surgeon and hospital. Her surgeon was Thomas Malvitz, MD, also with Orthopedic Associates of Michigan and chairman of Spectrum Health’s orthopedic department. She was excited to learn that the MAKOplasty® procedure would be offered at Blodgett Hospital. 

Using an interactive robotic arm system, combined with three-dimensional modeling and visualization, surgeons can precisely resurface only the diseased portion of the knee joint, sparing healthy bone, tissue and ligaments.  The new technology also allows for patient-specific alignment and positioning of implants that can result in knee motion that feels more natural after surgery.

Using robotic technology to prepare the bone surfaces allows us to be incredibly accurate. In addition, we can place the implants in near perfect orientation in all dimensions which leads to a more normal feeling knee for the patient, explained Golladay.

Golladay said that total knee replacement patients could anticipate a recovery time of two to three months. MAKOplasty® patients typically recover in less than half that time.

“I’m proud of the fact that we can be a technology leader, offering new procedures that focus on what’s good for the patient. Not every hospital can do this,” said Golladay.

Bruinsma says she won’t try to “rush” her recovery from her surgery and she is very happy that research has shown her new knee replacement could last for a decade or longer.

Who knows what they might come up with in the next 10 years? she said with a smile.

The Spectrum Health Center for Joint Replacement ranks first in West Michigan and second in the state for the number of joint replacements performed each year. It is also the only program in West Michigan to hold Disease Specific Care Certification for joint replacement surgery from The Joint Commission for meeting or exceeding the most rigorous national standards for quality, safety and clinical outcomes.

Patients can learn more about MAKOplasty® by visiting www.spectrum-health.org/knee or by calling 616.486.5519 or toll free 877.422.5830.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, a collection of eight hospitals and more than 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group, mmpc® and West Michigan Heart—physician groups totaling more than 400 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with nearly 580,000 members. Spectrum Health’s 16,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care. The organization provided $79.4 million in community benefit during its 2009 fiscal year. In 2010, Spectrum Health was named a Top 10 Health System by Thomson Reuters.