Dr. Caravelli holds his minor league baseball card from when he played for the Brevard County Manatees. Playing ball in the minor leagues has given him a greater understanding of athletes’ needs and motivation.

New Surgeon, Robot Partner In Precision Hip, Knee Replacements

Michael Caravelli, M.D., knew from the time he was in sixth-grade that he wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon.

What he didn’t know is that his chance to be a professional baseball player would come first, giving him enormous insight into the needs of not only athletes, but everyone who needs to move.

A left-handed pitcher, Dr. Caravelli attended UCLA for five years, playing for the Bruins. When it was time to graduate, he had medical school on his mind, but opportunity came knocking.

The St. Paul Saints offered him a chance to play in their minor league system and while it was tempting, he thought the responsible thing to do would be to start medical school. After all, it’s a nine- or 10-year commitment.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he recalled. “My advisor said, ‘Mike, don’t be in a rush. UCLA’s medical school is going to be here. You’re getting this opportunity right now. Take it. Go play!”

He started with the St. Paul Saints in Minnesota and then went to play in the Florida Marlin’s minor league system, experiences that he says make him the doctor he is today.

“In my world, the ability to listen, to ask questions and understand a patient’s goals, that connection is everything.”

Michael Caravelli, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon

“Being able to take one’s skill and dreams to a certain level affects one’s confidence and how they interact with people. And in my world, the ability to listen, to ask questions and understand a patient’s goals, that connection is everything.”

Dr. Caravelli is new to NorthBay Health Orthopedics, and with his arrival comes the addition of a Mako SmartRobotics System, which can be used in partial knee, total knee and total hip replacements.

Dr. Caravelli is not only a “Mako SmartRobotics Surgeon,” he travels as a roving instructor and consultant.

“The system is amazing,” said Dr. Caravelli. “It gives you the ability to individualize each joint replacement while you’re in the room during surgery. My colleagues and I have spent years understanding the functional anatomy of the hip and knee. It’s complex. Now there’s a tool where it will accurately adapt to what that individual’s joint wants at that time. It doesn’t just reduce their pain, it feels more like it’s their own joint.”

Dr. Caravelli uses the Mako for knee replacement, total and partial, hip replacements, including direct anterior, and complex knee and revision surgery. Hip replacement, with robotics and including patient-specific approaches such as the direct anterior hip approach, has grown in popularity because it supports people getting back to their daily life and independence even a few weeks after joint replacement surgery. Supporting and empowering patients to get back to being who they want to be is the goal.

Dr. Caravelli believes that really listening to the patient and understanding their goals “is everything.”
Dr. Caravelli believes that really listening to the patient and understanding their goals “is everything.”

“The patient’s anatomy and needs will determine which approach will work best,” he said. He points out that the gold standard approach —  the posterior approach — is also a solid, predictable solution allowing patients to reach the same level of function after joint replacement. This, too, is offered at NorthBay Health.

Dr. Caravelli specializes in lower extremity osteoarthritis, and did a fellowship focused on adult reconstruction.

“We need to understand how arthritis causes pain, and teach people how to use their skeleton to optimize that. The body knows how to manage arthritis, but we don’t always treat it in the right way,” he said. “We need to move. When you move, you produce healthy, non-inflammatory fluid in your joints. Exercising with intention every day supports having less pain and more ability to move.”

Dr. Caravelli is eager to get into the community and share information with the public about his services, so he can help improve quality of life for people who are suffering. Watch NorthBay.org for upcoming presentations, both in person and online.

“I like to remind every patient that they are an athlete — and my goal is to get them back onto their field — their quality of life.”

To learn more about NorthBay Health’s Total Joint Replacement Program, visit NorthBay.org/JRP and request an appointment with our joint experts.

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