When it comes to adopting new technology in orthopedic surgery, Juan C. Suarez, MD, says he proceeds with caution and waits until the methods are proven to be safe and effective.
“It’s important to embrace technology responsibly,” said Dr. Suarez, orthopedic surgeon at Baptist Health Orthopedic Care. “Baptist Health supports my efforts to implement evidence-based technology, and patients benefit from this commitment to quality and excellence. Dr. Suarez specializes in adult hip and knee replacement surgery, also known as hip and knee replacement. He has 16 years of experience in his specialty and performs approximately 700 surgeries per year.
During a series of virtual Baptist Health International orthopedics lectures, Dr. Suarez spoke with physicians and patients around the world about how technology has improved his surgical methods and improved patient outcomes.
Advances in hip replacement surgery
In most cases, Dr. Suarez performs hip replacement surgery using the direct anterior approach rather than the posterior approach. This minimally invasive technique consists of a small incision on the front of the hip which allows the joint to be replaced by spreading the muscles without detaching the tendons. “Patients experience less pain, faster recovery, and faster return to normal activities with the anterior approach,” Dr. Suarez explained.
Intraoperative data has changed the way Dr. Suarez performs this surgery. Intraoperative fluoroscopic (X-ray) navigation provides him with specific data on component positioning, leg length and femoral offset. “This technology takes the guesswork out of surgery,” Dr. Suarez said. “Precision plays an important role in restoring a patient’s normal gait and function as well as relieving pain. It also reduces the risk of instability or dislocation in the future.
Advances in knee replacement surgery
The intraoperative data provided during robot-assisted knee replacement surgery also provides Dr. Suarez with a clear course of action. A CT scan of the patient’s knee marries the knee to the intraoperative field and creates a plane that guides the bone cuts and achieves soft tissue alignment and balance. “This surgery was performed with mechanical instruments and the eyeball test,” Dr. Suarez explained. “Now the robotic arm is controlled in plan settings to provide custom alignment.”
Because the robotic arm allows for better precision and preservation of surrounding healthy tissue, patients generally recover faster than those who have had traditional joint replacements. In many cases, patients go home the same day of surgery. Dr. Suarez says international patients should plan to stay in South Florida for two weeks for a post-surgical checkup before returning home.
The benefits of robot-assisted knee replacement surgery also extend to the surgeon. Studies show that surgeons performing total knee replacement surgery with robotic surgical assistance experience less stress and fatigue than those using conventional methods. This is especially beneficial for surgeons like Dr. Suarez who perform a high volume of surgeries. “I know I can trust the data, perform the surgery accurately, and deliver the best outcome for the patient,” Dr. Suarez added.
Use of 3D technology
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is the process of creating a three-dimensional object by layering material into the desired shape. In orthopedics, this technology is used to create custom-printed implants and patient-specific surgical instruments based on MRI and CT images of a patient’s affected limb.
In knee replacement surgery, this type of implant is closer to the normal anatomy of the original joint. The product has a higher porosity and engineered scaffolds that promote bone growth in the prosthesis, says Dr. Suarez. This allows for biological fixation rather than cemented fixation, which can break down over time and cause problems for the patient.
“3D-printed implants are completely personalized to a patient’s unique anatomy,” Dr. Suarez explained. “Patients who receive custom knee implants often recover faster and experience fewer postoperative adverse events than patients receiving a traditional knee implant.”
Schedule a consultation
To determine if you are a candidate for hip or knee replacement surgery, schedule an orthopedic consultation with Dr. Suarez by visiting BaptistHealth.net/Ortho or calling 833-556-6764. International patients can arrange concierge service with a Baptist Health International Patient Coordinator by calling 786-596-2373 or emailing [email protected]