In recent decades, the baby boom generation has led to an orthopedics boom—including in joint replacement surgeries. The youngest of the generation, defined by those born between 1946 and 1964, are now in their late 50s. In addition to bringing large numbers to the aging population, boomers bring a previously unmatched passion for staying active.
As a result, the demand for orthopedics-specialized medical care is at an all-time high—and growing exponentially. Over the last decade, knee replacement surgeries have more than tripled among 45- to 64-year-olds, and total knee replacements among all ages are expected to increase an astounding 189 percent by 2030.
While total knee replacement surgery is, unquestionably, a life-changing positive experience for the vast majority of patients, about 20 percent report not being fully satisfied with their outcome from a conventional surgery. With its many benefits—for patients, as well as surgeons— robotic-assisted surgery is bringing patient satisfaction numbers up.
Now Available In An OR Near You
“The entire purpose of the robotic-assisted technology is to enhance patient care,” said Eric J. Lescault, DO, a board-certified joint replacement specialist at EmergeOrtho who is the region’s first surgeon to be certified on the Mako SmartRobotics Total Knee System. Currently, J. Arthur Dosher Memorial Hospital in Southport is the only facility in the area with the system.
“I urged the adoption of the technology because I was blown away by the patient benefits,” said Dr. Lescault. “Clinical studies have shown that patients who have total knee replacement with robotic-assisted surgery report lower pain scores and need fewer opiates. They get moving faster with improved knee flexion and less inpatient physical therapy, and 75 to 80 percent of them go home the same day.”
Dosher Hospital and Dr. Lescault began offering robotic-assisted knee replacement surgeries in late January of 2021. Dr. Lescault reports that currently 80 percent of his total knee cases and 100 percent of his partial knee surgeries are performed using the robotic-assisted technology.
How Robots Assist In Surgery
“Because the Mako SmartRobotics System creates a personalized surgery plan through CT-based 3D modeling of bone anatomy, it allows a more detailed approach to preoperative planning and intraoperative decision-making,” explained Dr. Lescault. “This information allows the surgeon to anatomically align the total knee components to match a patient’s unique anatomy.”
Dr. Lescault said the technology has been in use for partial knee replacements (in which only the arthritic component of the knee is replaced) for approximately 20 years, and about five years for total knee replacement, a procedure in which all three knee components are replaced.
Why Here and Now
North Carolina in general, and Brunswick County in particular, are consistently among the top destinations in the nation for retirement relocation.
“Our region needs to be committed to being on the forefront of providing state-of-the-art total joint care for that population,” said Dr. Lescault. He explained that age is a factor in many of the conditions that lead to becoming a candidate for total knee replacement, including many types of arthritis.
“The current literature on robotic-assisted total knee joint replacement supports improved alignment, less pain, quicker discharge from the hospital on average, and an earlier return to function,” he said. “These results are highly reliable and reproducible, and the need is only going to increase, so we are embracing this opportunity to enhance surgical precision and patient care.”
Which is excellent news for the burgeoning number of boomers who choose to live, and play, in southeastern North Carolina.