Robot revolutionizes knee replacement surgery

Georgette Greene has an active lifestyle and works out at least five times a week. But six years ago, the Campbell resident realized she could no longer do a squat.

She exercised even harder and lost weight. “That helped for a little while,” she said. “But from there my knees got progressively worse.”

Today the 57-year-old Greene lies in a hospital bed for the first time since having her daughter— now seated by her side — 31 years ago. She’s about to undergo total knee replacement surgery.

Greene isn’t having a run-of-the-mill operation. About a week before her procedure, she received some surprising news from the pre-op nurse: Her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jaideep Iyengar, wanted to have a robot named NAVIO assist with the surgery on her right knee.

NAVIO is part of the new robotics programs at San Jose’s O’Connor Hospital and Daly City’s Seton Medical Center. Currently, O’Connor’s Iyengar and Dr. John Velyvis, of Seton, are the only surgeons using the robot in the Bay Area.

Developed by engineers at Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who eventually went on to found Blue Belt Technologies, NAVIO was initially approved to assist with partial knee replacements. A few weeks ago, its developers received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for total knee replacements, said Robert Prenter, the regional manager for NAVIO Robotics. Its major competitor, the MAKO robot of Michigan-based Stryker Co., was also just licensed to assist with the operations, in which knees are replaced with joints made of metal and plastic.

“We’re in the heart of Silicon Valley,” Prenter said. “It kind of makes sense to have the best robotics available in that marketplace.”

Telling a patient that a robot will be involved in the surgery, however, usually elicits a lot of apprehension in most knee replacement patients. “The biggest question that we get is a patient asking about safety,” Iyengar said.

By Sukee Bennett | The Mercury News

Image Credit: Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group


About Peter Coffaro 820 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the orthopedic industry. Recognized by as one of the top medical sales influencers in the industry; he has 10 years of combined sales management experience and has held positions as a Director, General Manager and Distributor. Peter has worked for some of the top orthopedic companies in the world - Zimmer, DePuy and Stryker. He is also the founder of OrthoFeed: a popular blog that covers orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson and has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing and professional education. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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