The Benefits of Computer-Assisted Knee Replacement

Posted on 
August 28, 2023

In the mid-90s, a group of more than 27,000 Swedish patients who had knee replacement surgery received a postcard in the mail asking one question: Are you satisfied with the outcome?

When an overwhelming 83% of respondents said “yes,” researchers spent the next two decades focused on the remaining 17%.

“What they found is that these patients say something just feels different,” says Dr. Joseph Maratt, knee replacement surgeon at Forté. “Because of that, there is greater awareness that every knee is slightly different, and one of the best ways to change the outcome for that 17% is to personalize knee replacement based on each person’s anatomy.”

How we personalize knee replacement

At Forté, patients receive computer-assisted knee replacements, which are more personalized than traditional knee replacement surgeries.

The first step is patient-specific surgical planning. A CT scan of your knee is used to create a 3D virtual model of your unique joint. After tracking a series of points around your knee, Maratt guides it through a range of motion to capture how much it will straighten, how far it can bend and how tight the ligaments are.

“What we often see is that if we just decided to put implants in based on the 3D model alone, you’d end up with a knee that feels too tight when you’re trying to bend it,” says Maratt. “Those are the things that, in the past, would make recovery really hard.”

Maratt uses the model to determine the optimal size, placement and alignment of your implant. With help from the computer guidance system, he can optimize where bone cuts should be and where implants will go so that ligaments are ideally tensioned.

“Think of it as a simulation tool that we can use to try different combinations of things and pick the one that makes the most sense before we make a single bone cut,” he says.

The benefits of personalized knee replacement

After adjusting the software, Maratt uses robotic arm technology to help perform the knee replacement. The personalization of the process ensures just the right amount of damaged material is removed, preserving more bone and soft tissues than traditional knee replacement surgery. Robotic instruments also increase the accuracy of your implant’s positioning, reducing the risk of complications.

“It ultimately leads to less pain in the post-op period,” says Maratt. “We can’t make a knee replacement painless, but it leads to a more normal feeling knee and a faster recovery.”

What to expect from the recovery process

With a new implant in place, you’ll begin your journey to strengthen your new joint.

“We will get you up standing, walking and moving around a few hours after surgery,” says Maratt. “A physical therapist will give you a few exercises to do and visit you at home for the first two weeks after you leave the hospital.”

Just as every knee is different, so is every patient’s experience. But Maratt says most patients hit a series of milestones as they participate in physical therapy following computer-assisted knee replacement surgery:

  • 4-6 Weeks: You’ll be back to doing most things you want to do, including driving.
  • 8 Weeks: You’ll feel pretty good, except you may have a restless leg feeling and discomfort at the end of the day, which should subside within three months of surgery.
  • 4-6 Months: You’ll regain most of your strength and return to unrestricted activity.

How to know when the time is right

Determining your readiness for knee replacement surgery is a personal decision. While Maratt says he can help you understand when surgery is appropriate for your situation, only you can decide when the time is right.

“My advice is to take note if you’re unhappy with the choices you’re making, such as choosing to sit in your hotel room rather than going sightseeing with your family,” says Maratt.

“When you get to that point, don’t become sedentary,” he says. “Get back to the things in life that you like doing.”

To learn more about Forté’s knee replacement offerings using the latest techniques and technologies for the best results and fastest recovery, visit forteortho.com or call 317.817.1200.

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