Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Derek Farr understands the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle. That’s why he takes great pride in helping his patients get back on track to the life they want and deserve. Using Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery, Dr. Farr does just that with less pain, less down time and a faster recovery for his patients.
HOW DOES THE MAKO TECHNIQUE DIFFER FROM A TYPICAL HIP OR KNEE REPLACEMENT?
At this time, the Mako is only used for total hip arthroplasty and partial knee replacement/ resurfacing, although there will be more surgical options in the near future. The advantage of the Mako plasty over a typical replacement surgery is that this technology allows the surgeon to be more precise and exact. Surgeons do not have to rely on traditional techniques to determine the appropriate size and position of the prosthesis when they have the ability to calculate all of these variables through the Mako system.
HOW DOES THE MAKO SYSTEM WORK? WHAT IS THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND THE PROCESS?
It is quite amazing. Preoperatively, we obtain a CT scan of the hip or knee from which the computer will generate a 3-D image. Using that image, we can virtually place the implant and optimize the position of the implant ahead of time. This ensures that the size and position is perfect, which eliminates the possibility of a leg length discrepancy and provides checks and balances to ensure the appropriate prosthesis was placed. During surgery, the Mako provides dynamic live feedback to ensure that the surgeon’s technique is flawless.
IS THERE A BENEFIT FOR A PATIENT TO HAVE THE MAKO SURGERY VS. TYPICAL SURGERY?
Studies have shown that although orthopedic surgeons are good at making educated guesses about size of implant, placement and position, they are far from perfect. When a surgeon does not have this technology to guide them, the chance of mal-positioned prosthesis increases, leading to premature wear, possible dislocation, leg length inequality and increased pain. Computer-assisted surgery with the Mako robotic arm is more precise. Better-fitting implants lead to improved longevity of the prosthesis, less chance of failure and dislocation, shorter recovery time and less pain and complications. Studies have also shown greater patient satisfaction, which is most important.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE A CANDIDATE FOR A HIP OR KNEE REPLACEMENT?
Patients whose persistent hip or knee pain has affected their quality of life or reduces their participation in activities are strong candidates for such procedures. They have often failed more conservative care options, such as physical therapy, bracing, injection therapy and anti-inflammatory medication.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR LINE OF WORK?
I obtain great satisfaction from improving a patient’s quality of life and helping them get back to activities they enjoy. The most rewarding gift I can receive is a picture of a patient who, after Mako surgery, can go back to climbing mountains, surfing, kickboxing, playing softball, weightlifting, horseracing, riding unicycles and ballroom dancing. I have many of these pictures in my office.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TOP THINGS THAT PEOPLE CAN DO TO PROPERLY TAKE CARE OF THEIR JOINTS?
A weekly exercise routine as well as a healthy diet are most important for joint health. Being overweight is a risk factor for premature wearing of the cartilage in the joints, which will lead to replacement surgery at a younger age.
PARTIAL VS FULL KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY—HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH IS THE WAY TO GO?
Historically, partial knee replacement surgery has been more complicated for the surgeon with less optimal outcomes for a patient. As a result, many surgeons have stayed away from this procedure. Until the MAKO was developed, there was not a system that could aid the surgeon and provide feedback to ensure precise implant positioning and placement. Performing a partial knee replacement or resurfacing using the Mako is a completely different picture. I am able to perform same-day surgery, which leads to shorter recovery and less pain reported by patients. Interestingly, up to 60 percent of patients who have received a total knee replacement could have undergone a partial knee replacement instead, especially with the Mako. It is important to provide patients with this information so they can make an educated decision about their health.
Dr. Derek Farr, DO EDUCATION/CERTIFICATION:
Medical degree from Nova Southeastern University; orthopedic surgery residency, Michigan State University; sports medicine fellowship, Orthopedic Institute of South Florida. Board-certified orthopedic surgeon—Fellowship trained in Sports Orthopedics
YEARS IN PRACTICE: 9