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Lifestyles over 50

Quicker Recovery with Robotic Knee Surgery

Dec 13, 2022 10:54AM ● By Mary DeHaven, St. Luke's University Health Network
Next-generation robotic knee surgery provides real-time data about the anatomy of each specific joint to provide patients with an incredibly precise and personal fit. And best of all, it’s available right here in the Lehigh Valley.

St. Luke’s University Health Network was one of the first five healthcare systems in the nation to install the new VELYS Robotic-Assisted Solution technology in its hospitals, according to Adam Sadler, DO, of St. Luke’s Orthopedic Care. The system integrates digital software, anatomical imaging, and a table-mounted surgical saw to sharpen the surgeon’s accuracy and precision of bone cuts during total knee replacement surgery.

 “This is a game-changer,” Dr. Sadler said. “As a network, we have done very well in terms of our patient outcomes regarding knee replacement. Yet robotics has still moved the needle in a positive direction. When we look at the research, we see patients have less pain postoperatively, return to full function sooner, progress through physical therapy quicker, and have higher satisfaction. The post-operative outcomes we have seen in our office so far support this research and it is truly exciting.”

On Sept. 14, 2021, at St. Luke’s Warren Campus, Dr. Sadler, who serves as network director of the orthopedic robotic program, was the first surgeon in New Jersey to use the VELYS system, which the FDA approved in January 2021. The system works in tandem with the ATTUNE® Knee System to provide accuracy in implant positioning.

In November, Dr. Sadler’s partner, Patrick Brogle, MD, used the Network’s second knee replacement robot at St. Luke’s Bethlehem Campus to perform the first robotic knee replacement in the Lehigh Valley. Both surgeons have each performed approximately 100 robotic knee replacements since.

“The field of joint replacement, especially for knee replacement, has been relatively stagnant for the past 10 – 15 years,” Dr. Brogle said. “This represents unbelievably exciting and new technology.”

The leg bones—the femur and the tibia—and the gaps between them, are different in every patient, Dr. Brogle explained. The robot provides data about each patient’s specific knee, including range of motion and how their soft tissues are balanced. The robot enables the surgeon to make various adaptations to get a very personal fit of the implant on the bone. The VELYS system also facilitates pre-operative planning, real-time assessment with precise navigation, and control of the surgical saw, reducing the need for soft tissue manipulation.

The most common reason for knee replacement is osteoarthritis, a progressive condition that worsens over time. According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, with the knee being one of the most-affected areas.

Dr. Sadler said many of his patients who need knee replacement are current or former athletes, or have worked in labor-intensive occupations. This includes nurses, wait staff, carpenters, plumbers, truck drivers, builders, and farmers.

Knee replacement surgery is frequently a patient’s treatment choice when activity modification, medicine, injections, and physical therapy, fail to reduce pain and improve overall function. Both surgeons urged people suffering from joint pain to seek help.

“You don’t have to live in pain,” Dr. Brogle said. “We have a variety of techniques designed to help reduce pain and improve function for people who have all kinds of upper- and lower-extremity joint problems. For people who have a degenerative condition of the hip or knee, there is a variety of treatments leading up to surgery. We’re here to help and guide people through the process.”

St. Luke’s has recruited high-quality, fellowship-trained specialists and brought leading-edge technology here so patients don’t have to travel to Philadelphia or New York City for the latest treatment options, Dr. Sadler mentioned. In addition, St. Luke’s orthopedic surgeons are genuinely invested in their patients and will never treat them like a number.

Patients should never be intimidated by tales of joint replacement surgery from years ago because tremendous advances have been made in joint replacement technology and pain management, he told us.

“Walking on a beach with a loved one, getting down on the floor with your grandkids, gardening, and taking a trip, are all things that bring people joy,” Dr. Sadler said. “When joint-related pain chips away at your quality of life, we can restore your knee so you can enjoy the things you love.”

To make an appointment, call St. Luke’s Orthopedic Care at 908-847-8884 to see Dr. Sadler in Phillipsburg, or 484-526-1735 to see Dr. Brogle in Bethlehem or Wind Gap.