Revolutionizing Knee Replacement Surgery


WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Roughly 700,000 knee replacement operations are performed each year in America. The procedure relied solely on the sight and skill of the surgeon until now.

A new, high-tech option is available these days. It’s a robotic tool developed by engineers at Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh and as Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, it’s now being used with success at a local hospital.

What you’re seeing is a demonstration of what’s revolutionizing partial and total knee replacement surgery. It’s the NAVIO Surgical System — a robotics assisted tool that Commonwealth Health Physician Michael Raklewicz, MD and two other orthopedic surgeons recently began using at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. “I can look on the screen and see this knee blown up a little bit with a computer,” said Dr. Raklewicz who is Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at the hospital.

As a surgeon who averages hundreds of knee replacement operations a year, Dr. Raklewicz typically would open up a knee and use an average measurement of similarly shaped knees from prior surgeries. The NAVIO Surgical System changes the rules. “We map the knee with this device,” he said.

A 3-D image of a patient’s actual knee allows Dr. Raklewicz to map out smaller, precise incisions of the tibia and femur to attach the artificial joint. He said, “The human eye can only see so many degrees of bend, really five degrees is probably the maximum. With the computer and the robotics, you’re able to get that down to one degree.”

That greater precision means a better fit which should translate into a longer lasting knee replacement. It also often results in quicker recovery. “When I had the other one done, I had a very hard time lifting my leg into bed,” said Gail Scott of Larksville. Having undergone traditional knee replacement surgery six years ago, Mr. Scott is pleased how the latest technology  has benefited him and his new knee. “It takes a lot to get it working again and I feel that this time I’m much ahead on that process.”

Mr. Scott says he believes he’s about two weeks ahead of recovery schedule compared to his prior 2012 operation. Another benefit of the NAVIO Surgical System, it doesn’t require a pre-op CT Scan because of the 3-D imagery it produces. That means eliminating radiation exposure to the patient.

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