A Livingston man recently had partial knee replacement surgery. On the surface that's nothing new.
But the surgeon who performed replacement had some help from a hand-held robot.
Mark Baker, who lives in Livingston, needed knee surgery.
"I was ready for it. I was in a lot of pain. I was ready to get it done," said Baker
Baker’s surgery was about 10 weeks ago and the recovery has been going better than expected.
"I was very happy that I seemed to progress through it great and I think a big part of it is the robotic-assisted surgery," said Baker.
In fact, Baker was one of the first patients in Montana to have robotics-assisted partial knee replacement surgery. The surgery was performed by Dr. Martin Gelbke, an orthopedic surgeon with Bridger Orthopedic. Bridger Orthopedic recently purchased the robotic system which is the first in the state.
"Robotic-assisted surgery allows us to more accurately place implants and quite honestly it takes some of the error out of the surgeon," explained Gelbke.
The surgery requires no CT scans or MRIs because the robot does it all during surgery, mapping out a plan and then helping the doctor execute it.
Dr. Gelbke likens the surgery to a child's coloring book.
“It won’t allow you to color outside the lines,” he said. “So, we use a high-speed burr rather than a saw at present at least to remove the bone that we want to remove in order to place the implant. If you try to get outside of the lines so to speak that we’ve created with our model, the robotics system won’t allow you, the burr will retract and it won’t allow you to cut and it won’t allow you to go too deep.”
“So it really does execute the plan that we create,” Gelbke said.
The result is a knee replacement that may last longer and work better.
For Baker, his expectations are pretty simple.
I'm hoping I can keep up with my 2 sons and chase elk like I used to not have to wince."
So far, Dr. Gelbke has performed about 12 robotics-assisted partial knee replacements. The robotics-assisted surgery comes at no extra cost to the patient.