FARGO — Roger Peterson, 69, is fresh off a June 1 knee replacement and working hard at his physical therapy session. Before surgery, it was difficult for him to even take a few steps.
"I'd walk, and it'd take me two or three days to recover from just walking," said Peterson.
Usually, a knee replacement can take weeks, even months to recover from, but for Peterson, it's a different story.
"Since the first day, I have not used a walker, a cane, crutches or anything," he said.
Peterson's remarkable recovery is, in part, due to a new type of minimally-invasive surgery that requires the tiniest of incisions and a cutting-edge assistant named ROSA.
ROSA is a robotic surgical assistant that guides surgeons, helping them make exact measurements during surgery.
"You can put it (the knee replacement instrument) in and it can be too tight or too loose, and for all our patients, we want it to be just right," said University of North Dakota Professor and Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Todd Sekundiak. "This robotic surgery allows us to kind of customize it to make sure we match that implant to that patient specifically."
This doesn't mean the robot is in control of the surgery — that is still in the hands of the surgeon — but it is intended to provide precise assistance.
According to information provided by Sanford, once the instrument is placed inside the patient, the console of the ROSA allows the surgeon a 3D view of the working space, magnified and enhanced. From the console, the surgeon controls the movements of the robotic arms and instruments that work on the patient. ROSA's helping hands aren't just for knee replacement surgeries, though. It helps with a variety of surgeries.
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With ROSA's superior visualization, the goal is to be so accurate that it leaves patients feeling like they never had surgery in the first place.
Peterson said he almost feels as good as new.
"The last two weeks I think I'm walking like normal, and I get no stiffness almost anywhere," he said.
Dr. Sekundiak said ROSA helps surgeons be almost perfect, and he says it'll help make lives easier for patients.
"That makes your ability to climb easier, makes you able to squat and pick up your grandkid easier, and it allows you to even play sporting activities, whether it's golf, tennis . . . any type of those activities," he said.
As medical professionals monitor ROSA's handiwork in the future, Sekundiak said this could possibly eliminate the need for another knee replacement later on, so people like Peterson can get back to normal as quickly as possible.
"I think within a month I think I probably could be jogging, and I think I can be walking 18 holes of golf," Peterson said.
Sanford said this technology could eventually be the standard care for patients in the future, although a statement on the procedure said surgeries are assessed on a "case-by-case basis, and the surgeon needs to have a conversation to discuss risks and benefits of any proposed surgery."