Robotic Knee Surgery and home the same day!

Robots have been used in industry for years but now they are revolutionizing the medical world.

They are being used for everything from brain surgery to hysterectomy's and now they are orthopedic doctors predict they will become the gold standard for knee and hip replacement in the next few years.

Today Photojournalist Don Schoenfeld and I take you inside the O-R to show you how you can get a new knee and and get a leg up on recovery time.
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When we arrived at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center Orthopedic Surgeon described how much knee surgery has changed since he was a resident, "We'd have a saw in our right hand and lining the leg up with our left hand and basically it was freehand carpentry."

But that won't be the case today for 57-year-old Darrell Gill of Osceola who is getting prepped for a partial knee replacement performed by a computer driven robot.

He says he is looking forward to getting rid of the arthritic pain he's been living with, "Up until two weeks ago I was still working, but the last two weeks I have a lot of pain." I asked Darrell if he was nervous that a robot was part of his surgical plan, "No, because Dr. Ferlic h as had a lot of good things to say about it."

And Darrell especially liked being told he'll be going home the same day walking with a cane.

Darrell's wife, Sharon says their numerous grandchildren is another reason to get her hubby back on his feet saying, "He's always very active, doing stuff with the kids and does a lot for me around the house and he's just not able to."

South Bend Orthopaedic Doctors Fred Ferlic, Bob Clemency and Michael Kelbel are the first surgeons in the state of Indiana performing this type of surgery.

All three doctors say studies prove the robotic surgery, guided by a cat scan, is four times more precise than traditional knee surgery.

Dr. Kelbel explains the added safety, "the robot will only allow us to go within the pre-operative plan that we have, that was shown on the computer. So in essense, what it does is makes us more exact surgeons."

Dr. Clemency agrees, "I think it makes for a a much more precise knee, that's partial and conservative and also allows the patient a quicker recovery." Ferlic adds, "If the cat scan says 42 degrees, it makes the cut at exactly 42 degrees so we can't change that. It locks us in. I hate to admit it but we're not as good of surgeons as the robots."

Being located in South Bend this orthopedic team does a lot of work on Notre Dame athletes and says this partial surgery also spares another important function in the knee. Ferlic says, "We preserve the ACL and there's a tremendous advantage to that."

So, with a kiss from his wife Darrell is off to the operating room for a date with is team of doctors and a robot name Rio.

Tomorrow night Just Before Six we'll show you exactly how this surgery is done and find out whether Darrell will be up and walking out of the hospital the same day, as predicted.

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