Skip to Content

What Is Robotic-Assisted Joint Replacement Surgery?

If you have knee or hip problems and need surgery, the orthopaedic care experts at UPMC Horizon can help.

By using Mako SmartRobotics™ technology, our skilled surgeons can perform a robotic-assisted partial or total knee or total hip replacement.

While typical knee and hip replacements rely on x-rays and placing joint implants manually, CT scans guide robot-assisted surgery.

Pre-op, your CT scans take 3D images that help your surgeon:

  • Assess your unique bone structure, joint alignment, and surrounding bone and tissue.
  • Map out a plan to guide the robotic arm during the procedure.

What Are the Benefits of Robotic-Assisted Knee or Hip Replacement?

  • Precise joint implant placement and alignment.
  • Improved post-operative results.
  • Shorter hospital stays.
  • Fewer inpatient physical therapy sessions.
  • Less bone and soft tissue damage.

Knee and Hip Conditions We Treat With Robotic Surgery

Before Robotic-Assisted Knee or Hip Replacement Surgery

Robotic-arm assisted surgery can be either an inpatient or outpatient procedure. Your orthopaedic surgeon will decide what's right for you.

Your surgeon will review whether you are eligible for a same-day discharge (outpatient procedure). Outpatients have the opportunity to recover in the comfort of their own homes.

Be sure to arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home after your surgery.

Testing before robotic knee or hip replacement surgery

Based on your health history, your surgeon may want you to have tests within 30 days before your operation.

These can include a physical exam, chest x-ray, or EKG.

Unique to robotic-assisted joint replacement surgery, your doctor will also request a CT scan of your knee or hip. Your surgeon will use these images to help guide the robotic arm during surgery.

The day before your surgery robotic knee or hip replacement surgery

Take these steps the day before:

  • Prep your home for your return. Remove any obstacles. Decide where you'll be comfortable for the first few days. Even prep your meals so that you don't have to worry about cooking.
  • Ask your doctor about taking any of your current medications and follow their instructions.
  • Follow your doctor's orders about when you should stop drinking and eating.
  • Refrain from smoking.
  • Pick comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to wear.

What to Expect During and After Your Joint Replacement

When you arrive on the day of your surgery, you'll meet with an anesthesiologist to discuss your options. You'll also meet with your surgeon to go over any last-minute questions and confirm the surgical site.

Once in the OR, your surgeon will use your pre-op CT scan to precisely guide the robotic arm and replace the joint.

After surgery, you will stay in the recovery room until you're awake and comfortable. You may have therapy before you go to the nursing unit to settle in.

Physical therapy after robotic-assisted joint replacement

Physical therapy is a crucial part of the healing process. It's easier to get back to your normal routine if you work hard during your therapy sessions.

Plan on having therapy every day, even on the day of your surgery.

Your physical therapist (PT) will teach you how to:

  • Get in and out of bed.
  • Walk with a cane or walker.
  • Do basic exercises to safely heal.

Your PT will also teach you how to protect your new joint and help you with any movement restrictions.

Learn more about:

Going home and gaining strength

Before going home, your nurse will give you discharge instructions to help you recover, such as:

  • Help with any swelling.
  • Advice for eating and sleeping well.
  • Tips to manage any discomfort.

Once you get home, you may want to only rest.

Though you'll be able to go up and down stairs, you might want to stay on one floor for a few days.

It's vital to take every measure to avoid tripping or falling.

If you didn't do this before surgery, ask someone to clear your living space of anything that might be in your way. Also, be sure to keep rooms and hallways well lit.

Therapy doesn't end once you are home.

Your PT will give you exercises to help you gain strength before your follow-up with your surgeon.

In many cases, you can drive a car within 2 weeks and return to normal daily activities shortly after. 

Our Joint Replacement Surgery Experts

Learn More About Joint Replacements