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Fairless Hills Woman Gains “New Lease on Life” After Cutting-Edge, Customized Knee Replacement Surgery
Computer-guided technique gives better outcomes for patients.

LANGHORNE, Pa., May 5, 2009 – In 2007, Fairless Hills resident Nancy Marks felt her knee buckle beneath her as she got out of her car. After that incident, she suffered from constant knee pain. As time went on, her husband Gene knew something was really wrong when her knee pain ultimately kept her from shopping. Marks’ family physician referred her to Dr. George Cautilli, Medical Director of the St. Mary Joint Replacement Center. Cautilli quickly determined from the diagnostic images of Marks’ knee that she had bone-on-bone contact and would need knee replacement surgery to fully get rid of the pain. Marks’ initially chose conservative treatment and received cortisone shots to help ease her pain in efforts to postpone surgery to accommodate her work schedule as a teacher’s assistant.

The St. Mary Joint Replacement Center, which performs more than 500 joint replacements a year, was her first choice when Marks ultimately made the decision to go ahead with the surgery. And to her benefit, for qualified patients, Cautilli uses a customized approach to knee replacement surgery that uses advanced technology called computer-guided knee replacement. Marks and Cautilli reviewed the options and decided she was a candidate for this customized procedure.

Computer-guided knee replacement allows surgeons to provide a personalized fit for each patient’s knee implant. For patients like Nancy Marks, the computer-guided knee replacement procedure starts with an advanced MRI and computer technology to design a pre-surgery custom cutting guide. The surgeon then is able to position knee implants to fit the natural joint more exactly. Accurate and appropriate placement of the implant can be planned in advance of the actual surgery.

Other benefits of the computer-guided knee replacement surgery can include shorter time on the operating table which may reduce blood loss, less anesthesia, and less chance for infection. The pre-surgery planning provided by the MRI and custom-cutting guide allows for less surgery time as it reduces the amount of time surgeons need to check and recheck the replacement’s fit.

Specific benefits for the patients include a more precise fit with better alignment which helps extend the life of the implant. Patients report that they are able to adjust quickly to the new joint and that their knees move more comfortably and regain function sooner with increased range of motion.

Most patients of the St. Mary Joint Replacement Center have exceptionally good outcomes with all types of joint replacements, and most go home in two to three days following surgery.

“We are happy that we were able to offer Nancy computer-guided knee replacement,” notes Cautilli. “It’s a nice step forward when patients who need a knee replacement now can access the most advanced techniques and experienced physicians right here in our community.”

Prior to her surgery, Marks attended classes at the St. Mary Joint Replacement Center to help her prepare. Registered nurses and therapists provided information about what to expect before, during and after her knee-replacement surgery. These classes are offered to all joint replacement patients as part of the comprehensive Joint Replacement Program and include therapy exercises to begin prior to surgery to help patients recover more quickly.

“The nurses at St. Mary were very thorough and explained what would happen from the moment I was admitted to the hospital through my post-surgical discharge and my return home,” Marks says. “They covered everything from A to Z.”

During her three-night stay at St. Mary in the Joint Replacement Center, the nurses and therapists helped Marks get out of bed the day after surgery. She also had inpatient therapy sessions two times a day. These procedures are standard for all post-replacement patients to help them get back to their normal functioning more quickly.

Marks enjoyed the personal attention of physicians and the specially trained nurses. “Dr. Cautilli came every day to give me updates, and the nurses were so friendly and supportive to me and my family,” comments Marks.

Post-surgery, therapists from St. Mary worked with Marks in her home on exercises to regain functionality and strength in her knee. The customized knee replacement and comprehensive approach of the St. Mary Joint Replacement program speeded the recovery time for Marks. She relates that she was able to quickly return to her favorite hobbies including walking, gardening, and, of course, shopping. Marks comments that “now I can do everything I was able to do before.”