Exclusive: Why some doctors at St. Vincent say robots could be future of medicine

Local

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) –  A robot that’s more precise than human hands.

It’s called the Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Technology.

And it could have a huge impact on the growing number of Americans looking for a solution to arthritis.

“The disease always progresses, despite all of the medical management, we can’t do what we want to do,” says Dr. David Graybill.

Dr. Graybill is an orthopedic surgeon at Ascension St. Vincent Fishers, who has done thousands of joint replacement surgeries.

His number with the Mako arm is, which is used in total knee, partial-knee and hip replacement, is only about 100.

“I now use the Mako arm in most of my surgeries, he said.

“The robot allows us to personalize the positions of the implants to where the soft tissue is best balanced,” said Dr. Graybill.

The amount of damage to soft tissue is one factor in determining recovery time.

In traditional surgery, every replacement goes in the same way. After the bones are cut, the implant is put inside.

Surgeons work to tighten and loosen it while balancing the soft tissue around the implant.

All that work causes tissue damage.

The Mako robot allows surgeons to personalize the positions of the implant.

“Some people don’t have issues with soft tissue and their implant balances right away and the implant alignment is right where we would put it, neutral to the ankle,” said Dr. Graybill.

For everyone else, the robot arm allows Dr. Graybill to get the implant within .2 millimeters of where he wants to be.

Less tightening and loosening causes less tissue damage. This reduces post-surgery pain and the need for narcotics.

It allows the patient to get back to life faster.

That’s Something of which Dr. Graybill is familiar.

Earlier this year, Dr. Graybill found himself on the other side of the operating room.

He says his own knee pain got so bad, he wasn’t able to enjoy the things he loves, like biking and traveling.

He had already spent years on injections and pain relievers were no longer an option.

“I operate all day a couple days a week and I was leaving the operating room limping and unhappy at night,” he said.

After the surgery, Dr. Graybill says he could walk within a few days with one crutch and was back at work in two weeks.

“I was spinning at four weeks even hitting 200 watts at a time, which is pretty good,” he added.

Dr. Graybill is holding a free seminar Thursday at Ascension St. Vincent in Fishers for anyone looking at robotic surgery as an option.

For more information, click here.

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