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N.S. surgeon performs first robot-assisted hip replacement in Canada

Click to play video: 'Dartmouth hospital unveils tech to ease some surgical wait times'
Dartmouth hospital unveils tech to ease some surgical wait times
WATCH: The Dartmouth General Hospital unveiled some new technology on Friday that it hopes will ease surgical wait times for hip and knee replacements. Megan King has that story – Jan 13, 2023

A Nova Scotia surgeon has completed the first robot-assisted hip replacement in Canada at the Dartmouth General Hospital (DGH).

“This is adding a level of accuracy and precision that we’ve really never been capable of before,” Dr. Jennifer Leighton said at the announcement on Friday.

“This is going to be groundbreaking, not only for Nova Scotians, but for all of Canada.”

Read more: Nova Scotia ER deaths — ‘No one’ should have to go through this, Duclos’s office says

Leighton performed the first surgery using the Mako SmartRobotics System in November 2022, and has now performed many surgeries to replace hips and knees for Halifax-area patients.

The Mako robot is being used to better specify procedures to the bodies of each patient, customizing to the differences attributed to gender and ethnicity.

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“Our ability to 3D plan before and during surgery to accommodate a patient’s bone anatomy, their ligaments, their soft tissue and how their joint moves in space — that’s just something we’ve never been able to do with a two-dimensional X-ray,” the orthopedic surgeon said.

The first total hip replacement surgery in Canada using the Mako SmartRobotics System has been completed at the Dartmouth General Hospital. Megan King / Global News

A recent patient of knee replacement surgery at DGH using the Mako robot, Helen Young, told Global News she was out of surgery and heading home within six hours.

“It was a smooth process,” said Young.

The new technology will be used to increase patient satisfaction and decrease pain, swelling, length of stay and need for narcotics.

Only eight Nova Scotia surgeons and one Ontario surgeon are trained to use the new technology. Megan King / Global News

Leighton says the robot allows for an extra degree of accuracy in her work, which she hopes will reduce the rate of revision surgeries.

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“Those re-do surgeries have a major burden on the system,” said Leighton.

“They take at least double the time to do compared to a first-time surgery. They stay in hospital for several days compared to going home same-day or next morning. And a huge burden to the patient as far as the recovery, the risk and the complications that can happen.”

Read more: Emergency departments are in a state of crisis, Halifax ER chief says

As of November 2022, 90 per cent of hip replacement surgery patients at DGH received service within 472 days — quicker than the 637 days that 90 per cent of all Nova Scotia patients received service within.

For knee replacements, 90 per cent of DGH patients received service within 616 days compared with the 727-day wait for 90 per cent of all Nova Scotians.

As the only province in Canada with two orthopedic robots and a robust research program behind it, Leighton says Nova Scotia will have a huge presence in the robotics space — nationally and internationally.

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