New Orthopedic Robot at Knapp Medical Center Brings Innovative Technology for Mid-Valley Patients

“Mako SmartRobotics” partial and total knee replacements now being performed at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco

WESLACO, Jan. 2024 – Mid-Valley patients are now benefitting from an innovative new type of robotic-assisted knee surgery at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco. The new method enables physicians to conduct precision surgical planning before the surgery — utilizing pre-procedure CT scans.

Dr. Michael Sander, Orthopedic Surgeon with UT Health RGV, recently performed the Mid-Valley’s first “Mako” total knee replacements at Knapp Medical Center. During the surgery, Dr. Sander holds a robotic instrument — and the physician directs where it goes and what it does; the small device does not move at all without his guidance.

In many cases, the latest state-of-the-art Mako robotic system can help in facilitating greater accuracy and precision. This can enable physicians to more accurately fit and position a prosthesis (an artificial device that replaces a damaged body part in the knee).

The Stryker Mako SmartRobotics™ technology utilizes a 3D CT-based planning software which helps the surgeon to create a surgical plan personalized for each patient’s individual needs. By helping to guide the surgeon in performing precision cuts, Mako’s advanced “AccuStop™ haptic technology” can reduce the amount of cutting that is required during surgery, preserving more healthy bone.

“With Mako SmartRobotics™, I can utilize a CT scan to create a personalized surgical plan based on each patient’s unique anatomy – before I enter the operating room and before I make a single cut,” Dr. Sander said.

People with pain in their knee often have trouble with walking, going up stairs, jogging and other activities. Some experience these problems for years, and are treated with medication and exercise – until the pain becomes so great and their mobility so impaired that they seek orthopedic surgery. In most cases, this pain has been caused by arthritis, which is very common in the Valley and across the nation.

“This advancement in joint surgery transforms the way total knee replacements are performed, by helping surgeons plan and perform the surgery with precision,” Dr. Sander said. “The surgeon has access to information while using the Mako robotic knee replacement system that has not been available with traditional surgery.”

“The Mako process features advanced surgical planning using the pre-operative CT scans,” Dr. Sander added. “Before the surgery starts, I have access to precise planning software that, when combined with the intraoperative data, has really changed the execution of the knee replacement compared to traditional surgery.”

In many cases, this state-of-the-art technology is expected to help facilitate better outcomes for patients.

“At Knapp Medical Center, we are investing in the latest technology, as we seek to partner with our doctors in reducing pain and in improving the quality of life for our patients,” Dr. Sander added.

Following their surgery, patients are helped by physical therapists and other licensed professionals with the Knapp Medical Center Rehabilitation Services Department. The therapists help get patients up to walk before they go home, including patients who receive knee replacements.

“Knapp Medical Center is proud to bring this highly-advanced robotic technology to the Mid-Valley area,” said Rene Lopez, MD, FACHE, RRT, CEO for Knapp. “This exciting addition to our orthopedic service line further demonstrates our commitment to provide the community with outstanding healthcare services.”

Kathleen Avila, Regional Director for Business Development for Prime Healthcare, said that Prime takes “great pride in being the only system in the Rio Grande Valley to offer this state-of-the-art Mako SmartRobotics™ technology, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to providing exceptional healthcare services.”

Dr. Sander is an Assistant Professor for Orthopedic Surgery for the UTRGV School of Medicine, and has served as a full-time faculty member since 2019. He has been a member of the medical staff at Knapp Medical Center since 2006.

Dr. Sander is board-certified in Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. Dr. Sander’s office is located at UT Health RGV Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in the Knapp Medical Arts Building, 1315 E. 6th Street, Suite 10 in Weslaco (phone: 956-447-9797).

For more information on robot-assisted knee surgery in the Mid-Valley, please consult your physician and visit or