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South Peninsula Hospital now offering robotic knee replacement surgery

SPH Surgery crew assists Dr. Adcox with a training session and mock surgery using the new Mako orthopedic surgery robotics system.
Courtesy of South Peninsula Hospital
SPH Surgery crew assists Dr. Adcox with a training session and mock surgery using the new Mako orthopedic surgery robotics system.

People in need of total knee replacement surgery on the southern Kenai Peninsula now have a new option thanks to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approving the purchase of the Stryker Mako SmartRobotics System system late last month.

The purchase came in the form of a capital lease where the hospital will own the system after seven years. Its initial cost is $675,000 and current estimates show that through implant purchases, the total cost of the system over the seven year lease will be more than $900,000.

The system uses imagery from a CT scan to create measurements and plan out the entire procedure before making any incisions. Meanwhile, manual knee replacement surgeries the hospital did before required many decisions to be made during the surgery itself.

SPH director of public relations and marketing Derotha Ferraro pointed out the benefits to the system.

“It means less time in the operating room, because a lot of the work is done in advance,” she said, “it does create less risk for inadvertently damaging ligaments or things around the actual joint because of the precision involved."

Ferraro said the region has a larger population over the age of 55 than the state as a whole. A community health needs assessment done this year showed they make up roughly 40% of the southern peninsula’s population compared to 26% statewide.

“Comparatively speaking, we have a more senior population, and with that is growing demand for joint replacements,” she said

The region also saw a decrease in people getting knee replacements done locally. In 2021, 58% of knee replacement surgeries were done at SPH, but that number has gone down to 42% this year as people left the area to go to hospitals that offer robotic knee replacement surgery.

Ferraro said they expect to see more patients doing the surgery locally again.

“Some folks have really put off, you know, getting surgery as long as possible, in hopes that we would start offering that,” she said, “We do have letters of support. We had an individual came to the hospital board meeting and testified that they really wanted to do their surgery locally, but they really wanted to utilize the robotics option.”

Since purchasing and installing the system, Dr. Adcox, the hospital’s orthopedic surgeon, received training to use it. The entire surgical team also completed training with a mock surgery, and they performed the procedure multiple times shortly afterwards.

In an email, Ferraro said the feedback from the first two procedures has been positive, and surgical staff reports a smooth transition to the system.

While the system currently can only perform one surgery, there is the potential to purchase parts needed to do other procedures.

Local News South Peninsula HosptialKenai Peninsula News
Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.