A Prayer Answered: New Knees for Sister Margaret


SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — A robotic-assisted system called Navio is helping doctors with total knee replacements in the operating room. The technique was approved by the FDA in 2015, and a special patient at Saint Rita’s Catholic Church calls the procedure heaven-sent.

It’s hard to keep up with 79-year-old sister Margaret Castro these days. Last year, knee pain made trips to her upstairs office excruciating.

“I would get to a third step and then I’d have to hang on to the wall, and I’d walk holding on to the wall to get to the door. And I never said anything to anybody,” Sister Margaret shared.

Sister Margaret worked in leper colonies in India with Mother Teresa for 15 years as a girl. She’s tough, but her knee pain got to be too much. She called Scripps Orthopedic Surgeon David Fabi, MD, who told her about the robotic surgery system.

Dr. Fabi said, “It essentially allows us to customize the knee replacement to that patient’s specific needs, the specific anatomy.”

There’s no pre-surgical MRI or CT scan. Dr. Fabi has the Navio in the operating room. Using sensors on the knee, it produces a 3D image that helps him precisely align the knee replacement.

Dr. Fabi explained, “We were hitting about, at best, 90 percent target rate. What the robotic technology and computer technology provides is that now we are able to achieve 98, 99 percent accuracy.” (Read Full Interview)

Sister Margaret says she was out of the hospital in two days and back at work in three.

She said, “When I come just to work every day, I don’t pay attention to my knee. I just go about my work, and I forget all about my knees, and that’s fantastic, you know!”

She says her knee is as good as it’s ever been.  A nun’s prayers answered.

Dr. Fabi travels around the world to teach other surgeons how to use the Navio robotic-assisted knee replacement system. He says in the future, the system may help in hip replacements.

Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:        MB #4414


BACKGROUND: A total knee replacement is a surgical procedure where the diseased knee joint is replaced with artificial material. Reasons for a knee replacement are pain and impaired function in the knee. Osteoarthritis is the most common reason. The knee is a hinge joint which provides motion at the point where the thigh meets the lower leg. During a total knee replacement, the end of the femur bone is removed and replaced with a metal shell. The end of the lower leg bone (tibia) is also removed and replaced with a channeled plastic piece with a metal stem. Depending on the condition of the kneecap portion of the knee joint, a plastic “button” may also be added under the kneecap surface. The artificial components of a total knee replacement are referred to as the prosthesis.

(Source: https://www.medicinenet.com/total_knee_replacement/article.htm#what_is_a_total_knee_replacement)


REPLACEMENT: Knee replacement usually takes 1 to 2 hours. The surgeon removes damaged cartilage and bone from the knee. Then the doctor attaches metal implants to the ends of the thigh and calf bones. A plastic spacer goes between the metal pieces and helps the new joint move smoothly. Most people spend several nights in the hospital after knee replacement surgery. Dr. David Fabi, Orthopedic Surgeon, Chief of Orthopedic Surgery and Joint Replacement Specialist at Scripps Mercy Hospital said, “We’re about anywhere from 75 to 90 percent accurate because there’s human error involved. No matter what we’re humans; we’re infallible and we are hitting about a ninety percent target rate.” But now there is a new option.

(Source: https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/ss/slideshow-knee-replacement & David Fabi, MD)


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Dr. Fabi is using a new robotic technique to complete knee replacements. He said, “What the robotic technology and computer technology provides is that now we’re able to achieve 98 to 99 percent accuracy.” Doctors trace out the knee during the operation and the software formulates a 3D virtual model. This enables the surgeons to fit the implants to their anatomy and designate specific parameters. Dr. Fabi stated, “The pressures are equal throughout the knee so that it moves more like a normal knee. This technology provides that information that we never had before.”

(Source: David Fabi, MD)



Steve Carpowich, Public Relations Manager



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Doctor Q and A

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