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If you suffer from knee osteoarthritis, then you’re probably willing to do anything to walk without pain. You may have heard about total knee replacement from friends or your physician. You’ve also probably heard about the long recovery time and intense physical therapy process that follows a total knee replacement.

The Center for Orthopaedic Innovation has good news for patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis in Phoenix: there are alternatives to total knee replacement. For over three decades, the orthopaedic surgeons at St. Luke’s Medical Center have focused on bringing innovative surgical techniques to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Mako robotic partial knee resurfacing is one of the latest, most cutting edge procedures for treating osteoarthritis of the knee.

Am I a candidate for Mako?

The knee is made up of three compartments: medial (inside), lateral (outside), and patellofemoral (kneecap). Patients with early- to mid-stage osteoarthritis in only one or two of these three compartments may be eligible for Mako partial knee resurfacing.

How It Works: Mako Robotic Partial Knee Resurfacing

If you are the right candidate for the Mako procedure, the process will begin when you schedule a consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon at the Center for Orthopaedic Innovation. The surgeon will assess your condition and arrange for CT-scans of your knee.

These CT-scans will be used to create a 3-D digital image of your knee. On the day of your procedure, the surgeon will use a robotic arm to remove the diseased portions of your knee. The knee will be resurfaced, removing any bone spurs, cartilage, or loose matter, and prepared for an implant.

The surgeon then takes an implant (or implants) specially designed for your knee (thanks to the 3-D scans) and expertly places it so that motion in your knee feels as natural and easy as ever before. Many patients are walking just a few hours after the procedure has been completed.

Mako Procedure Benefits

Mako is a minimally invasive procedure focused on getting you back to the activities you love as quickly as possible. There are a number of reasons why patients choose Mako over total knee replacement. Benefits include:

  • Quicker knee pain relief
  • Better surgical outcomes
  • Faster recovery
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Smaller incision, less scarring and blood loss
  • More “natural” feeling knee post-surgery
Traditional Knee Surgery versus Mako
Traditional Knee Replacement*
Average Hospital Stay
3 – 7 days
1 – 3 days
Average Recovery Period
6 – 8 weeks
Approximately 2 weeks
Average Incision Length
8 – 10 inches
2 – 3 inches
Surgical Summary
Total knee replacement
(damaged and healthy bone/tissues)
Resurfacing of damaged
bone/tissues only

Lastly, Mako boasts only a 0.4% failure rate two years after surgery. That’s nine times lower than manual partial knee replacements (PKRs). 89% of patients say they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their results two years after the procedure.

Why choose St. Luke’s Medical Center for my Mako procedure?

While St. Luke’s Medical Center offers advanced surgical capabilities, surgeons and patients alike feel that there’s more to the picture. Over the years, surgeons and the nursing staff at the Center for Orthopaedic Innovation have collaborated to develop programs, education and processes that result in the highest quality patient experience.

When you visit St. Luke’s Medical Center, you’ll find that the care you receive is personalized. Clear and open lines of communication between surgeons, nurses and physical therapists mean you get the custom-tailored treatment you deserve.

What is the Mako recovery experience like?

One of the main benefits of Mako is that patients can typically walk the same day. Prior to your surgery, you’ll be given instructions on how to care for your resurfaced knee. Outpatient physical therapy usually begins one week after the Mako procedure, or when deemed appropriate by your surgeon. Most patients can drive 7-10 days following the procedure and many will be able to return to a normal lifestyle 1-4 weeks post-surgery.

Will I need intensive physical therapy to recover from the Mako procedure?

Joints and muscle tissue are always weaker after surgery – even after minimally invasive procedures like Mako. Physical therapy is strongly advised following robotic partial knee resurfacing. Our Motion Academy Total Joint Replacement class will teach you important exercises to “pre-habilitate” your knee before your surgery actually takes place. After surgery, our physical therapists will work with you to target those muscles that need rehabilitation. For patients who live nearby St. Luke’s Medical Center, we invite you to take advantage of the outpatient physical therapy services here at the hospital. The physical therapy schedule, for most Mako patients, is much less intensive than it is for patients who have had a total knee replacement (TKR).

Is Mako covered by my insurance plan?

Most private and Medicare-approved insurance plans do cover Mako robotic partial knee resurfacing, as it is a necessary knee arthroplasty procedure. Contact your insurance provider for more information, or view a list of health insurance plans accepted at St. Luke’s Medical Center.

For more information about Mako robotic partial knee resurfacing, please call the Center for Orthopaedic Innovation at St. Luke’s Medical Center at 602-251-8682. For a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon, call 1-877-351-WELL (9355).


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