Vivien Williams: Robots and video games. Two technologies that, believe it or not, are helping some surgeons perform more precise and effective operations for patients. Let's go to Mayo Clinic to see how doctors are using new tools for partial knee replacements.

This may look like a type of video game, but this technology, called robotic-arm assisted knee resurfacing, allows surgeons to do partial knee replacements more precisely than ever before.

Cedric Ortiguera, M.D., Mayo Clinic: While I'm doing the surgery on the patient, I'm also watching the screen.

Vivien Williams: The image on the screen is a computer-generated custom made map of a simulated patient's knee. It shows Dr. Cedric Ortiguera exactly where to operate. A robotic arm, equipped with a burr, keeps him from moving out of the targeted area.

Dr. Ortiguera: The robot actually guides us and prevents us from making any mistakes.

Mary O'Connor, M.D., Mayo Clinic: The advantage of using the robot to perform the partial knee replacement is really two-fold.

Vivien Williams: Doctor Mary O'Connor says first, it allows surgeons to remove less bone, which is good because new replacements don't last forever, and future surgeries are more successful if there's more bone for surgeons to work with. Second, it allows surgeons to align the implant and match it more precisely with the patient's anatomy.

Dr. O'Connor: We're using this robot because we feel that it is an advanced surgical tool to really allow us to provide a better surgical outcome for our patients.

Vivien Williams: Patients, like Lauren Whomsley.

Lauren Whomsley: You know, on a scale of 10, I was literally a five to six on a really good day.

Vivien Williams: Lauren was a good candidate for this procedure. She's young, and her osteoarthritis was confined to one area of her knee. She didn't need a full knee replacement, but the pain was bad. She couldn't do basic activities, like walking up stairs.

Lauren Whomsley: On the days that I was really, really sore, I would literally have to sit on the step and pull myself up step by step by step. I have 23 steps.

Vivien Williams: Being sedentary was tough for Lauren.

Lauren Whomsley: I'm a fly fisher woman, and I hike, two of my favorite things to do.

Vivien Williams: But she couldn't do them. So Lauren opted for the robotic arm assisted knee resurfacing. And now--

Lauren Whomsley: I'm back on the elliptical. I'm back on my bike.

Vivien Williams: She's back in action, knee pain free. Other benefits of the robotic arm assisted knee resurfacing may include less pain after surgery and a quicker recovery. That's because it's less invasive than other knee replacement procedures. Now, this procedure will not benefit all patients who need knee replacements due to wear and tear arthritis. So talk to your doctor to see if it might be right for you. For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.

Feb. 03, 2020