-By Frederick Francis Buechel MD
As 2022 winds down, it’s as good time as any to take inventory of our physical wellbeing and explore innovative ways to maintain an active lifestyle in the new year. Through-out my career as a reconstructive orthopedic surgeon, I have seen individuals of all ages allow physical ailments to needlessly rob them of activities they once enjoyed.
As a specialist in both total and partial robotic knee replacements, I am delighted to help patients play sports again, exercise, or simply keep up with their kids. My robotic surgical expertise started 13 years ago, after observing one of the procedure’s pio-neers (and my good friend), Dr. Martin Roche, perform an early robotic partial knee replacement. In my first year using the Mako Robotic System, I performed 230 partial knee replacements and have since done nearly 2,000 of them. In Au-gust I had the honor of being the first surgeon to perform an outpatient robotic total knee replacement at Lenox Health Green-wich Village (LHGV). Since then I have performed various types of outpatient ro-botic partial knee replacements — medial, lateral and patellofemoral — proudly bring-ing this life-changing procedure to the West Village community. Total knee replacement may be necessary for those who have extensive wear and tear in more than one of the three knee com-partments. The great news is that if you require a total knee replacement, the surgery can be done as an outpatient procedure; but if you require hospitalization, it may be as short as an overnight stay.
Total knee re-placements performed with the Mako ro-botic technology utilized at LHGV can provide patients with a customized knee installation based on their own ligament balance and natural alignment. This is achieved through the advanced ligament balancing software and increased safety provided by the robot-guided bone prepara-tion. Robotic partial knee replacements are growing in popularity in comparison to total knee replacements, as they provide a quicker and less painful recovery, a more natural feel, and a better range of motion. They can also last decades — like total knee replacements — when done precisely, by an expert surgeon using robotic technology.
Some surgeons may not be comfortable with partial knee replacements because they did not have significant exposure to this procedure during their training. For this reason, many surgeons tend to opt for traditional total knee replacements, even when patients qualify for partial replacements. With the investments made at LHGV, by Northwell Health, we can thoroughly evaluate and examine each patient with state-of-the-art imaging to assess the extent of their knee impairment. If the damage is concentrated to just the inner side, outer side, or kneecap, the patient may be a good candidate for a partial knee replacement. This relatively quick outpatient procedure provides significant pain relief and helps people return to their active lifestyles with the comfort they experienced before an in-jury or joint deterioration.
Additionally, the state-of-the-art robotic technology that we utilize at LHGV for these procedures eliminates many potential complications of traditional surgery. We are able to use advanced CT scans to virtually plan the surgery ahead of time. The imaging helps us customize the operation to each patient’s particular anatomy and identify any issues that may arise before we even en-ter the operating room. Furthermore, the robotic arm we use to prepare the bone for the implant is calibrated to the patient’s specific knee structure. This ensures the bone removal is personalized and exact, so no excess bone is unnecessarily removed.
A recent outpatient partial knee replacement surgery I performed at LHGV was on a 47-year-old patient who lived and worked through debilitating pain for many years. He spent the last several years unable to run around with his kids, and struggled every day with pain and a limp. I performed ro-botic medial partial knee replacement on both of his knees and within just a few hours of entering the facility, he was back home recuperating. A few short weeks later, he was able to return to work and is now running and keeping up with his kids — all pain-free. It’s success stories like this that make my job so satisfying.
If you suffer from knee pain, I encourage you to make an appointment and come see me. Relief is quicker and easier than you may think. Call our office at 212–308– 3089 to make an appointment that may change your life and get you back to an active lifestyle again.
Frederick Francis Buechel, Jr., MD is the di-rector of robotic assisted knee surgery at Lenox Health Greenwich Village and Lenox Hill Hospital