Robotic surgery hits new milestone

Photo Caption: L-R: Celebrating 1,000 robotic surgeries, nurses Ash Griffin, Lynne Moyes, Orthopaedic surgeon Andrew Tang and nurse Mickayla Meredith.


When eminent orthopaedic surgeon Andrew Tang began his career 27 years ago, he says any suggestion of doing surgery with the assistance of robotic technology was “something out of science fiction land”.

Today, we have marked a new milestone – 1,000 surgeries at Epworth Richmond using the cutting edge MAKO robot.

Leading the charge in this new achievement over the last two years has been a team of orthopaedic surgeons – Andrew Tang, Andrew Gong, Dirk van Bavel and James Canty, who have used the technology to undertake knee and hip replacements.

There has been a considerable growth in hip and knee surgery over the last two years, with our ageing population more commonly needing joint replacements.

The MAKO robot allows for greater accuracy of cutting and a better fit of the prosthesis. Early clinical studies are showing that the technology improves accuracy of alignment for knee replacements and reduces chances of possible dislocations and leg length discrepancy with hip replacements.

“Technically speaking, the robot has changed our work flow, the tools we use and gives us a new way of looking while operating,” Andrew added.

A team of operating room nursing staff have been trained in the robotic technique to assist in this new innovation.

“It’s a very exciting time for Epworth and we are fast becoming the robotic centre of care for Victoria,” Andrew said.

“We keep innovating and it just goes to show, you’re never too old to learn new things. This innovation came about towards the latter part of my career.”

After developing a real expertise in robotic surgeries, Epworth surgeons are now able to train others.

“We now train surgeons from around the country and regionally. We’ll also be running virtual training in our education centre on the ROSA platform soon as well.”

MAKO robot timeline at Epworth:

  • First case using MAKO – 29 August 2017 (a partial knee replacement)
  • First hip – 5 September 2017
  • First full knee replacement – 9 January 2018.

* Last month, Epworth Richmond acquired a ROSA robot, which is used for total knee replacements.

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