Pioneering hip and knee surgery leads to improved recovery

Hip and knee pain can be distressing and reduce your mobility, confidence and quality of life.

Thanks to pioneering technology, Sulis Hospital is at the forefront of hip and knee replacements with its addition of Mako® robotic-assisted surgeries described as ‘the gold standard’ of joint replacement surgery. Robotic surgery allows the surgeons to perform complex hip and knee surgeries with greater precision, flexibility and control than is possible with conventional techniques.

As a traditional surgery, hip or knee replacements are often performed based on what’s envisioned as the body’s alignment. These limitations have led to the design of Mako® which helps the surgeon both plan and execute the joint replacement with a greater degree of accuracy.

We hear from two Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons from Sulis Hospital about how this pioneering technology enables better outcomes for patients.

Orthopaedic Consultant and Hip Specialist Matthew Burwell explains “Robotic-assisted surgery allows the experienced surgeon to be even better. The expectations of patients have changed dramatically in the last two decades. Patients don’t just want to be relieved of their pain; they want to return to unrestricted activities and feel as they did when they were younger. That puts the onus on us as surgeons to reproduce the natural joint.”

Why do so many people experience joint pain?
Orthopaedic Consultant and Knee Specialist Neil Bradbury explains “A knee, like any joint, is really two bearing surfaces formed from the end of the thigh bone and the top of the shin bone and the surface is covered with articular cartilage. Over time, we wear that away and end up with bone rubbing on bone, this is osteoarthrosis, wear and tear and it’s very painful.

Even today, joint surgery faces many obstacles: “It seems straightforward, but it’s actually quite challenging. Our goal is to recreate the patient’s normal anatomy, in other words, how they were before they developed arthritis, so their leg is aligned or straight for them and the tension in the ligaments that hold the bones together stays the same.

“Until now, when trying to correct alignment in a joint, we have implanted joint replacements based on population averages. There are people, of course, who are outside that band of ‘normal,’ so bringing them back to where they should have been has been very challenging. This is because we don’t have the capability of doing it with precision accuracy. So what we need is help to try and personalise the alignment for each patient and that’s where the robot comes into its own.”

Matthew goes on to explain “The robotic-assisted technology personalises the joint replacement for the individual patient making the planning more bespoke. This means that each patient gets a personalised plan for their joint replacement which in turn improves recovery.”

There are a number of stages in the planning process, the first being the creation of a three-dimensional model of the patient’s joint using a specialist CT scan imported into the Mako® robot. The robot then assists the surgeon during the operation in making very precise and extremely accurate cuts restoring the patient’s joint shape, alignment and tension between ligaments to within 2mm of accuracy.

Neil concluded by saying: “I think robotic surgery is the future. I think personalisation of surgery is where we need to be going and I’m absolutely certain that you will see a huge uptake of this technology in the future because for patients, to have a personalised knee replacement and great function is what we’re aiming for.”

The Bath Magazine heard from Eddy Watts, a patient of Sulis Hospital. He described his experience: “I was very pleased with the operation to replace my left knee. I returned quickly to my normal life and have had no problem at all with the knee – walking, playing tennis, Pilates etc.”

Now a year later, Eddy is living life to the full and has even been able to go on a walking holiday to Hungary: Eddy adds “I walked a total of 220 miles including three days of 24 miles per day. I experience no problems whatsoever from my knee during or after walking.”

World-class Expertise
The Centre of Excellence for Joint Replacement at Sulis Hospital is recognised for its specialist expertise and high standards of care.
The specialist centre brings together experienced Consultant Surgeons, dedicated rehabilitation therapists and nurses providing investigation, diagnosis, and treatment to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Robotic surgery isn’t an option for everyone. Talk to your consultant about the benefits and risks of robotic surgery and how it compares with other types of minimally invasive surgery. Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons at Sulis Hospital offering Mako® robotic-assisted surgery are; Mr James Berstock, Mr Neil Bradbury, Mr Matthew Burwell, Mr Sam Heaton, Mr Ben Lankester and Mr Paul Latimer.

A new way of thinking in healthcare
As a leading private hospital owned by an NHS Trust, Sulis Hospital reinvests additional revenues back into the NHS.

Looking for expert advice? Book an appointment at Sulis Hospital Bath. Call 01761 422288 or visit to find out more.

Sulis Hospital, Foxcote Avenue, Peasedown St John, Bath BA2 8SQ