August 11, 2022 by John Fernandez
Orthopedic Surgeon Details Evolving Technology in Total Joint Arthroplasty
When it comes to adopting new technology in orthopedic surgery, Juan C. Suarez, M.D., says he proceeds with caution and waits until the safety and efficacy of methods have been proven.
“It is important to adopt technology responsibly,” said Dr. Suarez, an orthopedic surgeon with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care. “Baptist Health supports my endeavors to implement evidence-based technology, and patients benefit from this commitment to quality and excellence.” Dr. Suarez specializes in adult hip and knee joint arthroplasty, also known as hip and knee replacement. He has 16 years of experience in his specialty and performs approximately 700 surgeries per year.
During a virtual Baptist Health International Orthopedics Lecture Series, Dr. Suarez discussed with physicians and patients from around the world how technology has enhanced 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 on the front of the hip that allows the joint to be replaced by moving muscles aside without detaching any tendons. “Patients experience less pain, quicker recovery and faster return to normal activities with the anterior approach,” Dr. Suarez explained.
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 femoral offset. “This technology takes away any guesswork during the surgery,” Dr. Suarez said. “Accuracy plays an important role in re-establishing 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-assisted knee replacement surgery also provides Dr. Suarez with a precise plan of action. A CT scan of the patient’s knee marries the knee to intraoperative field and creates a plan that guides the bony cuts and achieves alignment and soft tissue balance. “This surgery used to be performed with mechanical instruments and the eyeball test,” Dr. Suarez explained. “Now, the robotic arm is controlled within the parameters of the plan to provide personalized alignment.”
Since the robotic arm enables better precision and preservation of healthy surrounding tissues, patients typically recover faster than those with traditional joint replacements. In many cases, patients go home on the same day as surgery. Dr. Suarez says international patients should plan to stay in South Florida for two weeks for a post-surgical check-up before traveling home.
The benefits of robotic-assisted 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 who use conventional methods. This is especially beneficial for surgeons like Dr. Suarez who perform a high volume of surgeries. “I know that I can trust the data, perform the surgery with accuracy and provide the best outcome for the patient,” Dr. Suarez added.
Utilizing 3D Technology
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is the process of creating a three-dimensional object by layering the material into the desired shape. In orthopedics, this technology is used to create custom-printed implants and patient-specific surgical instrumentation based on MRI and CT scan images of a patient’s affected limb.
In knee replacement surgery, this type of implant is closer to normal anatomy of the original joint. The product has a higher porosity and manufactured scaffolds that promote the growth of bone into the prosthetic, 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 totally customized to a patient’s unique anatomy,” Dr. Suarez explained. “Patients who receive customized knee implants often recover faster and experience fewer postoperative adverse events than patients receiving 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 International@BaptistHealth.net.