If you are scheduled to have knee replacement surgery, you may be offered the choice to have a bespoke custom-made knee implant or Mako robotic arm-assisted surgery. In this blog we look at the advantages of each procedure to help you understand the difference and weigh up which might be the best option for you.
What is knee replacement surgery?
Knee replacement is a surgical procedure which involves removing the damaged knee joint and replacing it with a prosthetic implant. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need a partial or a total knee replacement. The latter involves removing the entire knee joint while the former means only part of the knee is removed, leaving healthy areas of the joint intact.
There are pros and cons to each approach and your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss this with you. As a general rule, we normally recommend retaining as much of your natural joint as possible as the risk of complications is lower.
Who can have knee replacement surgery?
Knee replacement surgery is offered to people with a serious knee injury or severe arthritis that prevents them from doing everyday activities and impacts on their quality of life.
What is a Mako Robotic Arm Assisted Knee Replacement?
Mako robotic arm assisted knee replacements use highly advanced technology to enhance the skill of the orthopaedic surgeon and support them both before and during surgery. The Mako system’s specialist software allows the surgeon to plan your surgical procedure in advance. A CT scan of your knee joint is used to create a 3D virtual model of the unique anatomy of your knee and to develop a personalised surgical plan. During surgery, your surgeon follows this plan, using Mako’s highly advanced robotic arm to guide them.
What are the benefits?
Every person’s anatomy is unique so a system that maps the knee joint in precise detail and then formulates a personalised surgical plan helps to ensure greater accuracy. This is important as it means implants can be positioned in precisely the right place so they can function in almost the same way as your natural knee joint. Mako assesses the natural movement patterns of your joint, helping to minimise stress on ligaments and soft tissues from your new implant. Data shows there is a lower risk of complications, less chance of implant failure and faster rehabilitation for patients who have Mako robotic arm assisted joint replacements compared to conventional surgery.
What are Conformis Bespoke Knee Implants?
Conformis are prosthetic knee implants that are custom-made for each individual patient. In conventional joint replacement surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon selects from a range of standard sizes of prosthetic implants that best match the patient’s individual anatomy. Unfortunately, one in five patients are not satisfied with the results of their knee replacement surgery using standard off-the shelf implants. Conformis addresses this by creating implants that are specifically designed for individual patients and totally bespoke.
What are the benefits?
The main benefit of Conformis is improved accuracy and greater patient satisfaction with the outcomes of their knee replacement surgery. According to a study into outcomes that compared patients with conventional total knee replacements to those with custom-made implants, a year after surgery 94.3% of Conformis patients were satisfied in comparison to 74.2% of conventional implant patients. In addition, Conformis patients were able to return to everyday activities, such as walking and climbing stairs significantly faster than those who received an off-the-shelf implant. Because the Conformis prosthesis matches the patient’s individual anatomy with pinpoint accuracy, less bone has to be removed leaving a greater area for the implant to be fixed to. There is less post-operative bleeding into the joint, less pain, less swelling and a lower risk of soft tissue impingement which can cause ongoing symptoms.
Mako or Conformis?
As orthopaedic surgeons, we are continually striving to improve the experience and outcomes of surgery for our patients. We are advocates of both the Mako robotic arm-assisted system and Conformis custom-made knee implants as both represent leading edge technologies that are making a difference to the lives of patients around the world. We would be happy to discuss your individual circumstances and make recommendations based on your particular priorities. Contact us for more information.
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Please be reassured that despite the ongoing UK Covid-19 pandemic, orthopaedic treatments are now again being routinely offered to patients. Having the vaccine does not mean that your treatment won’t go ahead. However, in some circumstances, such as for planned surgery, it is advisable to delay it by a couple of weeks to ensure your body responds in the optimum way to the vaccine. If in doubt, please talk to your orthopaedic consultant or contact us for more guidance to help get your orthopaedic treatment back on track.
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For your convenience, we offer appointments at both Nuffield Hospital Cambridge and Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital.