Health Check: Robotic total knee replacements

A South County Hospital physician is the first in the world certified to do total knee replacements using the Mako robot. (WJAR)

A South County Hospital physician is the first in the world certified to do total knee replacements using a robot.

Sixty-five total knee replacements have been done since June using this advanced technology at that hospital.

Shoshana Feinstein, a former opera diva and rock singer, had been singing the blues because of a bad right knee for about 10 years.

"Unbearable pain, and I have a high tolerance to pain," said Feinstein.

Earlier this year, she got into a car accident and blew out her other knee.

"It took me two minutes to walk down the stairs and I've got two horses I have to feed them every morning," she said.

She went to see Dr. Bob Marchand, who imaged both of her knees.

"When I looked at the screen I couldn't believe what I saw. It looked like 90-year-old, old lady legs," he said.

On June 1, Feinstein had her first total knee replacement, performed manually by Marchand. Six weeks later, she had a second total knee replacement. Same hospital, same doctor. This time it was robot-assisted. And what a difference.

"The recovery of my second knee was amazing,” said Feinstein. “I didn't need any assistance getting out of bed when I came home two days later."

That's because of the precision of the high-tech Mako robotic-assisted system. Marchand showed Feinstein how everything is mapped out before surgery.

"So once we get this all lined up and then we take your knee and merge it with this CT scan. So now we have your knee plugged in to the computer and we actually see it live here," he said

Then the robotic arm takes it from there.

"The robotic arm listens to where we want to make the cuts," said Marchand. "It locks in to make the cut within a millimeter of where we planned, which is infinitely better than what I can do manually."

And here's the cool part. There's virtually no chance for error. The robotic arm will only make cuts where it's programmed.

Marchand performed the first 35 total knee replacements with the robot as part of a study. Now he's the first physician certified to do them commercially.

"I'm totally amazed,” said Feinstein. ”That's why I'm here. I mean, Dr. Marchand gave me my life back."

Marchand will be holding a seminar on this new technology at The Crowne Plaza in Warwick at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 28. It is free and open to the public. To RSVP, call 401-788-1689.

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