Knee-replacement surgery with a robot's help

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Laurie Mullens, 63, says she is a walker; that is how she gets her exercise. But a sudden sharp pain from arthritis in her knees put Mullens out of commission. She had cortisone and gel shots, but they wear off. Surgery was the next option for her.

Dr. Brian McGinley is an orthopedic surgeon at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, Long Island. He said Laurie's knee has healed well seven weeks after surgery and her motion is excellent. Many hospitals have used robotic-assisted technology for partial knee replacements but Dr. McGinley was the first in the country to use the device for a total knee replacement.

Dr. McGinley said that 10 surgeons in the country are trained to use robotic-assisted technology. On the day of the surgery, all of the data is entered into the computer. Once the computer knows where the knee, hip and ankle are, it knows the alignment of the leg and the surfaces of the bone and tells the surgeon where to cut.

The procedure has been taking doctors 20 to 30 minutes longer, but Laurie, who considers herself a nervous person, didn't mind a little extra help from a robot.

This precise and less-invasive surgery had Laurie up and walking the same day and home a few days after that. She said she feels like the operation gave her back 20 years.