St Vincent’s Northside - Australian leader in robotics surgery for joint replacement

St Vincent's Private Hospital Northside

St Vincent’s Northside continues to blaze a trail for robotic surgery for joint replacement, leading the nation in performing the most robotic assisted Orthopaedic surgeries over a three-month period from August to October this year.

75-year old Brisbane grandfather and lifelong sportsman Russell Adams is reaping the benefits of the ‘rise of the robots’, as St Vincent’s Private Hospital Northside establishes itself as a national leader in robotic surgery.


With two Stryker Mako robotic systems, St Vincent’s Northside was the Australian leader, with its expert team of surgeons performing the most robotic surgery cases of any hospital in Australia, with 204 cases in the three months from July to September.


Russell had his second hip replacement surgery in September (both were done at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Northside) and just nine weeks later is back “living his best life” doing regular bike rides with friends and enjoying beach walks - all pain free.


While age might have wearied Russell a bit, there’s no way he wanted to let an osteoarthritic hip or two (the second of which degenerated quickly this year) stop him from his lifelong active lifestyle. As a former long-distance runner, squash champion and bushwalker, being active – but pain-free - was his biggest priority.

Russel with Ch 7 Reporter

Russell sharing his story with 7 News Brisbane.

“I had my first hip replacement in December 2021 and that was done at St Vincent’s Northside with the Mako robotic system,” said Russell.

“So, when my other hip started to deteriorate and become very painful through the start of this year, I had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do and I had the confidence to go to the orthopaedic surgeon again and start planning for the second surgery.

“My other hip had become more and more sore throughout this year and I was hobbling around and wasn’t able to engage in my normal active lifestyle. I had gone back to do some Park Runs (a community event where everyday runners take part in a 5km fun run) but I had only done two runs over a few weeks and the second hip flared up again.

“I have a high pain threshold, but it really slowed me down. I was hobbling around all the time and tried some physiotherapy sessions but it just wasn’t alleviating the pain and giving me normal mobility.

“I know how important it is for all of us to keep moving as we get older. For me, the hip pain had got really bad earlier this year and after having had the first hip replacement in December 2021, I knew that I had to get the second one done. Also, by getting it done with the robotic system, I knew I would have a much better outcome and would get moving pain free again.

“With the second operation, I had an excellent experience in post-operative care by the fabulous team at St Vincent’s Northside who provided expert surgical treatment and great post-operative care. I had a good recovery and was out of hospital and home after three days.”

Russell and his family

Russell with his family.

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr David Fraser said the cause of arthritis in major joints such as hips and knees was multi-factorial – a combination of genetics, lifestyle factors, injury and general ‘wear and tear’ over years.


“The causes and factors are variable between patients and build up over many years, presenting in most people aged in their 50s, 60s and onwards,” said Dr Fraser.


“The decision to opt for a joint replacement should be reached in consultation with your doctor and a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon. Ultimately, if someone has optimised their pre-operative measures – if physiotherapy, exercise and medications are failing - then a hip or knee replacement is a reliable operation to improve their pain and function.


“The robotic assisted arthroplasty system builds on the foundation of what’s already an excellent operation in terms of improving a patient’s pain and function with a hip replacement and getting patients back to what they want to do.


“Robotic assisted surgery helps us plan and execute the operation with great accuracy and precision to get the implants where we want them and to optimise the patient’s recovery. Anecdotally patients seem to recover quicker – we try and get all the patients up and walking the day of surgery and back to doing their normal activities as soon as possible.”

Russell Mako
Channel 7 News featured the story of Russell Adams and the St Vincent's team - (L to R) Dr David Fraser, Russell Adams, Channel 7 News cameraman Mitch and reporter Anna and Dr Richard Hanly.

Fellow St Vincent’s Northside orthopaedic surgeon Dr Richard Hanly said joint replacement surgery was reliable and reproducable – and robotic surgery had the benefit of allowing for variations in a patient’s anatomy and variations in risk with their anatomy to make sure that it produced the best outcome for the patient.


“It gives us the most precision in delivering customised positioning for joint replacement. A combination of 3D CT modelling and robotic planning software allows us to individualise the position of the prosthesis to match individual variations in anatomy,” said Dr Hanly.


“It means that what you plan pre-operatively is verified during the procedure to confirm the accuracy of implant position. The uptake of robotic surgery is continuing to gain pace.


“There are other areas that are anticipated over the coming years with shoulder surgery and spinal surgery applications in discussion and the possibility of robotic assisted ankle replacement in the future.”

Mako Robots

St Vincent’s Northside CEO Oli Steele said the hospital had made a long-term commitment to robotics surgery which had allowed it to attract and retain a team of expert surgeons and support medical staff who were able to consistently achieve great health outcomes for thousands of patients.

“We bought our first Stryker Mako robotics system in 2015 and followed up with the acquisition of our second system this year and St Vincent’s orthopaedics team have embraced the innovation, technology and improved access to the equipment that it brings to our hospital,” said Oli. 

“But the greatest benefit is for our patients and the fact that there are now literally thousands of patients who have had excellent surgical outcomes and whose joint pain has been relieved and quality of life has been improved by having access to the Mako system here at St Vincent’s Northside.”

He said he was proud that St Vincent’s Northside surgeons had now performed almost 2,600 robotics surgeries since 2015 and the hospital led the nation for the most robotic surgeries for the July-September quarter with 204 cases in three months.

Russell Running

As for patient Russell Adams – he said he’s been stunned at how quickly he recovered from his second hip replacement and has been able to get moving again. 

“I was walking the next day while in hospital and six weeks after the operation, I was on the bike and peddling pain free and now I’m back doing regular bike rides with my mates. I try to get down to the Gold Coast regularly and I’m back doing my regular 4km beach walk which is just fantastic,” he said,

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