When it comes to adopting new technologies in orthopedic surgery, Dr. Juan S. Suarez says he is treading cautiously and waiting until the methods’ safety and efficacy are proven.
“It’s important to embrace technology responsibly,” said Dr. Suarez, an 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 is a specialist in adult hip and knee replacement, also known as hip replacement and knee joint. He has 16 years of experience in his specialty and performs approximately 700 operations per year.
During Baptist Health International’s Virtual Orthopedics Lecture Series, Dr. Suarez discussed with doctors and patients from around the world how technology has improved his surgical methods and improved patient outcomes.
Advances in hip arthroplasty
In most cases, Dr. Suarez performs hip replacement surgery using the direct anterior approach rather than the posterior approach. This minimally invasive technique involves a small incision in the front of the thigh that allows the joint to be replaced by moving the muscles to the side without detaching any tendons. “Patients experience less pain, faster recovery, and a faster return to normal activities with the anterior approach,” explained Dr. Suarez.
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 femur displacement. “This technology takes all the guesswork out of surgery,” said Dr. Suarez. “Accuracy 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 arthroplasty
Intraoperative data provided during robotic knee replacement surgery also provides Dr. Suarez with an accurate plan of action. A CT scan of the patient’s knee connects the knee to the intraoperative field and creates a plan that guides the bony cuts and achieves soft tissue alignment and balance. “This surgery was done with mechanical instruments and an eyeball test,” explained Dr. Suarez. “The robotic arm is now controlled within the parameters of the plan to provide customized alignment.”
Because the robotic arm allows for better precision and preservation of healthy surrounding tissue, patients typically recover faster than those with traditional joint prostheses. In many cases, patients go home the day of surgery. Dr. Suarez says international patients should plan to stay in South Florida for two weeks for a post-op checkup before returning home.
The benefits of robotic 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 strain than those using conventional methods. This is especially helpful for surgeons like Dr. Suarez who perform a high volume of surgeries. “I know I can trust the data, perform the surgery with precision and ensure the best outcome for the patient,” added Dr. Suarez.
Using 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 the 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 higher porosity and engineered scaffolds that encourage bone growth into 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 customized to the patient’s unique anatomy,” explained Dr. Suarez. “Patients who receive custom knee implants often recover faster and experience fewer postoperative side effects than patients who receive 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 from a Baptist Health International Patient Coordinator by calling 786-596-2373 or emailing [email protected]ptistHealth.net.