First Knee Replacement Surgery Using Robot in Canada Performed on Mississauga Man

The first knee replacement surgery using a robot was recently carried out by a Toronto surgeon. The patient, a 75-year-old man from Mississauga, was offered the option to have a robot-assisted surgery using the new VELYS robotic assisted device and is now on the road to recovery after a successful operation.

Steven Gotal was on a European vacation late last year when his knee pain got worse and kept him from enjoying his time there. His knee pain reached a point where it was affecting his daily simple tasks like walking and going up and down stairs. He then visited Dr. Michael Zywiel, an orthopedic surgeon and clinician investigator with the Schroeder Arthritis Institute at Toronto’s University Health Network who presented the option of knee replacement surgery using a new robot.

The VELYS robotic assisted device Depuy Synthes, a U.S. medical device company entirely from a donation. It allows surgeons to plan and execute the surgery more accurately. “The robot lets us very accurately perform the exact cuts we want to perform,” he said. This means there is very little trauma to the knee and all its ligaments and muscles. This allows patients to be discharged sooner, recover faster, and get back to their regular lives.

Gotal underwent surgery last Friday and is on the road to recovery. He shared that he now has far less pain when getting up and down the stairs and around his home. He does not use a walker anymore.

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VELYS robotic assisted device has been developed by Depuy Synthes, a U.S. medical device company
VELYS robotic assisted device has been developed by Depuy Synthes, a U.S. medical device company. Credit: CBC

The robot also helps in saving time as the patient doesn’t require pre-operative scans. “Within an hour or two, they can get up and walk and put their weight on it and go home and get recovered faster than they would be if we didn’t have this technology helping us,” Zywiel shared.

Toronto Western Hospital performs approximately 700 knee replacements a year and Zywiel believes that the new robot-assisted surgery technology will lead to happier and more satisfied patients. “So if we can make even a small dent in that proportion of people who struggle with their recovery and struggle to get a good outcome, all that’s going to do is free up resources so we can look after all the other people with knee arthritis who need our care,” he added.

Zywiel did point out that the training process to be able to effectively use the robot takes over a year. Even still, he states that his team will have the opportunity to train other staff from hospitals in GTA as well as internationally.

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