From Barbados to Colombia: June and Her Search for Relief with Robotic Arm-Assisted Surgery

  • After several weeks of suffering from severe pain in her right knee, June Diana Holder found a surgical alternative at the Hospital Internacional de Colombia (HIC) that allowed her to return home with significant results.

  • June traveled from Barbados to Colombia to undergo a novel procedure with the Mako robotic arm. She became the first international patient to receive this type of surgery in the eastern part of the country.

  • With Mako, surgical times decrease, recovery is much faster, and the pain level is less compared to conventional procedures.


Bucaramanga, May 2024. For June Diana Holder, every step was painful. Walking or moving required a great effort from her right knee, and her quality of life was starting to deteriorate. After receiving medical attention in Barbados, an island located more than 3,000 kilometers from Colombia and where she currently resides, her diagnosis revealed that she was suffering from post-traumatic osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease that results from the wear and tear of joint cartilage over time.

But this situation did not occur on its own; a few weeks ago, June had a fracture accompanied by damage to the meniscus (shock absorbers and stabilizers of the knee joint), and surgery was necessary. However, although the procedure promised improvement for June, the result was not as good as expected.

"If I stood up, sat down, or lay down, the pain never stopped since the surgery. So I had no choice but to look for a new place to undergo the procedure," the patient explains.


After several days searching for new professionals to help her with her condition, she finally chose Colombia to undergo joint replacement surgery. The Hospital Internacional de Colombia (HIC) was the institution that opened its doors to her and allowed her to access her new procedure but it was not a conventional one: June was the first international patient to undergo surgery in eastern Colombia using the Mako Robotic Arm-Assisted Surgery System.

Dr. Gustavo Gómez, an orthopedic surgeon at HIC, explains: "Mako is a robotic arm that we use to perform total knee replacement surgery. It is a completely novel technology in our country that guarantees much more precise results for our patients, with faster recovery and greater reduction in pain compared to conventional surgeries."

For June, surgery with the robotic arm was successful. Just a few days after the procedure, she managed to get up from her wheelchair, dance, and smile again upon discovering a new life without pain. "Hip-hip hooray! And this is because I am completely grateful to the medical and support team that attended to me. I am very pleased with everyone and with HIC for giving me this new knee and allowing me to be the first international patient to receive surgery with a robotic arm."

The patient is back home, working on her recovery process, and her quality of life has improved significantly.


Regarding the Mako robotic arm and its advantages:

Since its arrival on December 12, 2023, the Mako robotic arm has transformed the lives of over 50 Colombian patients needing knee or hip joint replacements. The outcomes of the procedures and their recovery have been successful. Compared to conventional surgery, where at least 30% of patients experience pain upon waking and need assistance to take their first steps, patients treated with this new robotic system show a faster and more effective recovery, reducing the need for additional therapy.

To perform the procedure, Mako utilizes advanced planning based on three-dimensional images obtained through Computed Tomography (CT) scans, combined with AccuStop haptic technology, which simulates the sense of touch and movement so the surgeon can virtually manipulate objects in digital environments. In addition, a thorough analysis of the patient's data is made to ensure the accuracy and efficiency of the process. This technique involves sensors placed in the areas to be treated, and antennas send all the information to software, indicating how much to cut, what orientation and prosthesis we need, avoiding cuts in soft tissues and considerable bleeding.

It is worth noting that the team of surgeons at the HIC Orthopedics Institute received training at the Mako Education Center in Fort Lauderdale. During this process, they received guidance from experts to familiarize themselves with the operation and operation of this new technology.

International Patient Office

The HIC International Patient Office provides personalized attention to foreign patients seeking medical treatment. With a bilingual team, it offers advice and support before they arrive at the hospital and during their stay. This includes accompanying the patient to medical appointments, exams, procedures, and necessary care.