Joint replacement surgeries go robotic at Conemaugh

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Jan. 27—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A new robotic-assisted surgery system will improve total joint replacements at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown by allowing more precise removal of the joint and less damage to nearby tissue, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Vincent E. Vena said.

The Mako robotic system is the third robotic machine in Conemaugh's toolbox.

"This is a powerful new tool, which is essentially a robotic, manually assisted arm that allows us to do extremely precise cuts," Vena said.

The robotic arm is connected to a computer that follows a predetermined path designed with input from Vena, the robotic system and images of the joint from a computed tomography scan taken shortly before the operation.

"The CT scan creates a 3-D model through which the computer, the robot and I now put in a knee that is perfectly matched and positioned to the patient," Vena said.

The robotic assist provides a more precise cut to bones when the joint is removed.

"Patients benefit from more accurate component placement and less tissue trauma, which often leads to less pain, less blood loss, faster recovery times and shorter hospital stays," Vena said.

Over the long term, Conemaugh's team hopes to show the robotic-assisted system can reduce premature wear on the new joints and reduce remission rates.

"It's a system I've been fighting to get for about three years," Vena said. "I'm very pleased that I'm working for a system that is interested in investing in technology that improves patient care."