Conventional vs. Robot-Assisted Knee Replacement

Knee replacement surgery, also known as total knee or partial knee arthroplasty, can be life-altering for many patients who suffer from osteoarthritis and other joint problems. This surgery can eliminate pain and restore mobility, allowing patients to resume an active lifestyle.


Arthroplasty may either be performed in the conventional way, wherein the surgeon seats the implant manually, or with the assistance of a robotic arm controlled by the surgeon. Understanding the difference between these procedures can help you feel more at ease.

Conventional Knee Joint Replacement Surgery

Partial knee replacement surgery using conventional or standard technique typically replaces only a part of the joint. The advantages of a partial knee replacement are that only the damaged components are replaced with prosthetic implants. This leaves the ACL, PCL and the other compartments of your knee intact replacing only the damaged parts of your knee.

Replacing only the damaged components of the knee joint results in a more natural feeling and movement. It also facilitates a quicker recovery and return to normal activities.

Under the conventional surgery protocol, the surgeon visually identifies the correct alignment and positioning for the metal implant based on X-rays of the joint. After inserting the implant, the surgeon cements the prosthesis in place.

Knee Replacement Using a Robotic Arm


When this procedure is performed with the assistance of a robotic arm, CT scan images are used instead of X-rays. CT imaging technology allows the surgeon to construct a three-dimensional model of the joint. The surgeon then uploads the images to the robotic software system to establish a plan for the surgery.

During the procedure, the surgeon controls the robotic arm, using the 3D model for guidance, and positions the implant in the precise location necessary to ensure the correct leg alignment and soft tissue balance.

The technology used to perform a robotic knee replacement, known as the Mako® system or MAKOplasty®, allows the surgeon to preserve undamaged portions of the joint. This approach to arthroplasty also provides a number of other advantages for the patient.

Benefits of Robot-Assisted Knee Replacement

Medical research clearly indicates that robot-assisted joint replacement — specifically arthroplasty — is more effective when surgeons use robotic arm technology.

The primary reason for the improved outcomes involves the precision with which the surgeon can position and align the implant prosthesis. Improper alignment results in excess wear and may cause the implant to loosen prematurely. Patients may also experience problems with surrounding components of the knee joint that would not otherwise occur if the implant was aligned more precisely.

The research also demonstrated that, even for surgeons with extensive experience in performing arthroplasty procedures, using the assistance of a robotic arm allowed them to provide a significantly improved outcome for their patients.

Dr. Trevor Magee of Comprehensive Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is one of Utah’s foremost experts in robotic-assisted joint replacement procedures. To learn more about this exciting technology, contact us today and schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you learn more about the benefits of robotic-assisted knee replacement.