Robotic tool improves accuracy in hip, knee replacements

The Mako, at Upstate.

The Mako, at Upstate.

The orthopedic staff at Upstate University Hospital has a new tool called the Mako that helps surgeons precisely install replacement parts for hips and knees.

“The Mako is a robotic arm that is connected to a series of computers that allows the machine to recognize where, in a three dimensional space, the tip of that arm is located,” describes orthopedic surgeon, Robert Sherman, MD.

A patient undergoes computerized tomography before the operation. The surgeon uses that CT scan to build a 3-D computer model of the joint. In the operating room, the surgeon marks on the patient with a special marker that contains a tracker which the robotic arm reads.

For hip replacements, the surgeon indicates on the 3-D model the angle and depth of where the metal cup, ball and socket should be placed. The robotic arm matches that information with the marks on the patient’s body and does not allow the surgeon to stray from those areas.

For partial knee replacements, the robotic arm follows the plan created by the surgeon on the 3-D model and, using an attached burr, removes the least amount of bone necessary. Then a piece of metal replaces the arthritic bone to recreate the knee joint.

The Mako “is a way to help accurately and precisely put these pieces in exactly where we want,” Sherman says. “When I leave the operating room, I know everything’s perfect. I don’t have to second guess myself.”

Hear an interview with Dr. Sherman about the Mako

To learn more about hip and knee replacement options at Upstate, visit

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