Local Orthopedic Surgeon Completes 1,000th Robot-Assisted Surgery

When Edmund Raycraft, MD, performs knee or hip replacement surgery, he has a little help from a special assistant: a robot named Mako.

Dr. Raycraft, of DMH Orthopaedic Associates, has been performing procedures using the Mako Robotic Arm Assisted Surgery System since 2016. He recently performed his 1,000th procedure using the technology, which uses three-dimensional CT scans to provide surgeons with an unprecedented level of accuracy.

“The Mako robot takes some of the uncertainty out of these procedures,” Dr. Raycraft said. “Even a very experienced orthopedic surgeon can’t match the precision it provides. Higher accuracy in cutting and positioning means less damage to healthy tissue and bone, which means less pain and a shorter recovery for the patient.”

Of Dr. Raycraft’s recent procedures using the Mako system, 651 have been full or partial knee replacements, while 363 have been hip replacements.

One of the advantages of the Mako robotic arm is the ability to make small but significant adjustments during the procedure itself. Surgeons can explore range of motion and other important data points onscreen before even making the first incision. This allows procedures to be tailored to the unique anatomy of each patient’s joint.

“Orthopedic surgery is very precise,” Dr. Raycraft said. “With a knee replacement, for example, a millimeter or two can make a huge difference in a patient’s recovery time and post-procedure quality of life. Increased precision can even help extend the lifespan of the replacement joint, preventing patients from having repeated surgeries in years to come.”

While this technology is now used widely, including at many hospitals in central Illinois, Dr. Raycraft is considered one of the most proficient users of the Mako technology in the Midwest. In fact, thanks largely to his championing of the system, Decatur Memorial Hospital is the fourth-largest user of Mako in the region, with a usage rate similar to large university hospitals in Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin.

“Technology doesn’t fundamentally change the way we approach these surgeries,” he said. “What it does is allow us to remove some of the guesswork that was inherent in joint replacements for decades. It’s so rewarding to follow up with patients and hear how that increased precision has paid off in a quicker recovery and better range of motion in the hip or knee.”