• 530.541.3420 | 2170 South Avenue, S. Lake Tahoe, CA
Mako Surgical Team

Robotic Surgery Revolutionizes Joint Replacement

Now available at Barton, Mako SmartRoboticsTM offers joint replacement with a faster, less painful recovery

Barton Health is one of the first hospitals in the Lake Tahoe and Carson City areas to offer Mako SmartRobotics™, a robotic system that enables orthopedic surgeons to have a more predictable knee and hip joint replacement surgical experience with increased precision and accuracy, resulting in better outcomes for patients.

Mako SmartRobotics™ features intricate surgical preplanning with the ability to create a 3D map of a patient’s joint. The map supports less-invasive surgery, resulting in faster recovery times and less pain. Daniel Blackwell and Julie Fernandez are just two of many patients who share their stories about having robotic joint replacement at Barton.

“After more than 20 years of driving a delivery truck, my knee just didn’t function like it used to.” —Daniel Blackwell

On April 5, 2022, Daniel Blackwell walked into knee replacement surgery to address wear-and-tear arthritis. He had spent 20 years driving a delivery truck in South Lake Tahoe, climbing in and out of a tall cab five days a week. When out fishing—his favorite pastime—Daniel would often resort to lowering himself to the ground before navigating the uneven terrain near the water. It was time to improve his quality of life, and that meant addressing his knee.

In consultations with his care team, total knee replacement was Daniel’s best chance of restoring function at 73 years old. When he learned of Mako SmartRobotics™, he knew it was the right decision for him. As a veteran, Daniel isn’t afraid of much, and when they rolled him into the operating room that day, he was in awe of the computers displaying images of his joint, the robotic arm prepped and ready for battle, and the support team, confident and ready to repair his knee. He exclaimed, “The whole team is here!”

Daniel expressed his gratitude to the entire team, from the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jeff Orr, and his physical therapist, Hudson Wilvers, to his care coordination team—all of whom helped navigate his joint replacement journey, resulting in a smooth and successful second chance at life without pain. He looks forward to casting his line on the banks of the river this season.

“Since I was 15, I can’t remember a time without pain. Not until now.” —Julie Fernandez

Julie Fernandez has always been an athlete. Growing up in rural Ohio, basketball was her passion, and she spent more time on the court than all other activities combined. However, constant jumping and directional change was hard on her joints, resulting in injuries throughout her high school and college careers. Between ages 15 and 25, she had three unsuccessful knee surgeries, resulting in a constant struggle with pain management.

Fast-forward nearly 20 years, and Julie is an experienced physical therapist, helping others heal and address weaknesses in their own bodies while living with daily pain herself. Throughout years in the clinical setting, she built strong relationships with the orthopedic surgeons at Tahoe Orthopedics & Sports Medicine and cared for their surgical patients. She knows their craft intimately, and with the arrival of Mako SmartRobotics™, she decided it was time to make herself whole again. In assessments, Dr. Kyle Swanson indicated that Julie’s arthritis was some of the worst he’d ever seen— especially for a person her age—making her a great candidate for joint replacement. She opted for surgery, knowing that even a small improvement would mean a happier life.

Julie is on the road to recovery, and she most looks forward to being able to walk without pain. In early therapy sessions, she excelled in flexion—bend of the knee—and she has been ahead of her set targets for most of the recovery. Strength and mobility show her knee replacement was very successful, and she’s working toward her ultimate goal of playing volleyball with her three kids.

Types of robotic surgeries performed with Mako SmartRobotics™:

  • Total knee
  • Total hip
  • Partial knee

Benefits of robotic surgery:

  • Faster recovery
  • Less invasive
  • Less pain

If you are living with joint pain, discuss treatment options with your orthopedic provider. There is a pathway to relief so you can get back to thriving in your daily life. More information about providers and options or treatment can be found at BartonOrthopedicsandWellness.com.