Tonawanda News


August 18, 2013

Robot technology aids in hip, knee replacements

KENMORE — For Lewiston resident Betty Rienzo, the ability to be up and about on her feet was pretty important to her. 

Up until last November, the now-70-year-old, worked as a certified medical assistant for a podiatrist, which, like for many in the medical industry, involved lots of walking around and long hours on her feet.

”I very rarely sat,” she said.

That was, until she had a fall while on the job that injured her right knee. The once-active woman was now walking with the assistance of a walker and receiving regular cortisone shots to relieve inflammation. 

She told her employer that fall it was time for her to retire ... the pain was just too much.

Rienzo’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Peter Shields, told her she needed a full knee-replacement. During the scans and X-rays required for that surgery in March, Shields discovered the injury to her knee had subsequently caused strain on her hip, chewing away at the ball in the joint.

She would also need hip-replacement surgery, but this time Shields wanted to use a less-traditional procedure that used technology unique in Western New York.

Shields has pioneered the use of the MAKOplasty robotic-assisted hip-replacement surgery in the Buffalo area at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. The surgery makes use of a robotic device, the RIO Robotic Arm Interactive Orthopedic System, which allows surgeons to input a CT scan of the patient’s hip into the robot, which then guides the surgeon in the replacement process.

”In hip-replacement surgeries, especially, we’ve always had some problems with the position of the components. Even though we do hundreds of these, everybody’s anatomy is a little different,” which can lead to post-operative hip dislocation and impingement, and uneven leg length, Shields said. “Those are things we try to minimize as best we can by preemptive planning.”

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