Mike Compton, 63, says it was his long history of playing sports, from high school football, basketball and track, to college football and track at UND, that caused the “wear and tear” on his hip that required replacing in April 2018.
“I went in to the hospital at 6 a.m., prepped, they did the surgery, and by 3 p.m. I was sitting at home in my own lounge chair,” said Compton. “Same day. And I walked out of there with a walker, but, to be honest with you, I probably didn’t even need it.”
Compton underwent a total hip replacement at Altru Specialty Center at 4500 S. Washington St. using its Mako robotic arm. Robotic --but operated by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jeremy Gardner.
The Mako is a robotic arm that assists a surgeon by providing more precise removal of undesirable tissue, such as diseased bone tissue, which allows for a better fitting replacement joint.
“Mako is a tool that helps me make the most accurate and precise cuts I can make and customize that hip or knee replacement to the patient,” Gardner said.
Altru has been using the Mako robotic arm for more than three years, with the number of knee and hip joint replacement procedures approaching 775.
The process starts with a pre-operative plan that is specific to each patient. CT data is used to create a 3D model of the patient’s bones: the hip or the knee. The plan, put into the Mako and then guided by the surgeon, removes bone tissue to prepare for the accurate placement of the new joint.
For some, the idea of undergoing a joint replacement surgery by a doctor-operated-robot may be intimidating.
“The biggest concern is they all want to make sure I’m still doing it,” Gardner said. “It doesn’t do anything that I don’t tell it to do.”
Patients then have a follow-up visit with their doctor and, if necessary, undergo physical therapy. Hip replacement operations don’t typically require formal therapy, but knee replacement is a bit more involved.
“We have patients start after three to five days and are usually in therapy for about four weeks or so,” Gardner said.
According to information provided by Altru, the benefits of surgery using the Mako robotic arm include shorter hospital stays, less blood loss, a faster recovery and smaller incisions which lead to reduced scarring.
Gardner notes that about 20 percent of patients go home the same day and the remainder go home within a day.
Another benefit is less pain overall, which means a reduced need for pain medication.
“On average, the pain is tremendously less than it used to be 10, even five years ago,” Gardner said. “We use as much non-narcotic medication as we can possibly use.”
Using Mako is now the norm for hip and knee replacements at Altru Specialty Center.
“It’s become the standard for us; by far, we do the majority of our hips and knees with Mako technology,” he said.
Compton doesn’t question his decision to undergo his complete hip replacement.
“I’ll do a lot of bike riding, elliptical machines, cross country skiing, I can do all that,” he said. “It was a very good experience. It exceeded my expectations to be honest with you, when you can have a whole hip replacement in the morning, and by the afternoon be sitting in your own home. Minimal pain at that point. I was pretty comfortable. That’s about as good as you can ask for."