Toronto hospital now conducting innovative, robot-assisted knee replacement surgeries

A 64-year-old patient at Humber River Hospital is recovering after having robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery Monday.

“Even me I didn’t know it, but I’m so glad,” said Marta Ramirez, referencing the use of a robot in the operating room.

It is the first robotic knee performed in Canada using the Zimmer ROSA system.

The ROSA Knee system, offered by Zimmer Biomet, was designed to offer surgeons precision and accuracy through a cut flow and validation feature designed to ensure proper alignment in real-time.

Read more: ‘It was like getting my life back:’ New knee replacement protocol helps patients go home sooner

“This is a Canadian technology … the computer lab that helped develop this is in Montreal and I think that it is incumbent upon us as surgeons to adopt Canadian technology in Canadian settings for Canadians,” said orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Rodriguez-Elizalde, who performed Ramirez’s surgery.

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It is believed that the robotic knee system will lead to improved quality of life for patients and a better post-discharge experience.

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“Being able to do surgery more accurately and changing your interoperative decision making will, in the long run, show great benefit to the patient,” said Dr. Rodriguez-Elizalde.

“What we’re hoping is that the long-term effects of this knee, the balancing of the ligaments in relation to the bone cuts that we made of the knee, are more accurate and thus can last longer and make it feel a bit more natural to that patient.”

For Marta Ramirez, who said she has suffered with arthritis in her right knee for more than 10 years, it means she will be able to take on a more active role in her grandson’s life.

“Next year I’m going to retire and I am going to have a better quality of life … time to enjoy with my family and my grandson,” she said from her hospital bed in the recovery room.

Leading up to the surgery, Dr. Rodriguez-Elizalde practiced with the robotic arm, but COVID-19 meant travel was restricted so flying to the United States for training was somewhat limited.

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Still, the surgery was deemed successful and Ramirez will not begin physiotherapy.

“It’s like having the first iPhone. It’s not the iPhone we have today,” he explained.

“It was a leap in terms of using a touch screen and of not having a keypad on your phone, so robotic surgery is that leap.”

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