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Need New Knees? ROSA Surgical Robot Now In The OR To Lend A Hand

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - An operating room robot promises less painful, longer lasting knee replacement.

CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez says the brand new bot, called ROSA, doesn't actually do the operation but helps surgeons make the procedure better.

The majority of knee replacements are very successful.

But with more than 600,000 knee replacements done each year in the U.S., even a small percentage that aren't perfect amount to a lot of unhappy patients.

That what the robotic surgical assistant ROSA aims to improve.

A lot of people dream of being a chef in a fancy restaurant. But as corporate chef Lydia Liebchen will tell you, the reality is that you're on your feet eight, 10, 12 hours a day.

That meant that when Lydia's knees started to go, so did her quality of life.

"It changes your life. It changes the way you think, it changes what you do, certainly changes the way you walk and work, and there was out. There was just, you wake up with pain, you're laying down with pain, and there's no end in sight," said Liebchen.

She had one knee replaced seven years ago and it took three months to recover to the point she could be back on her feet all day at work. When her doctor said a robot could reduce that dramatically, she said "let's do it."

"When I was wheeled into the operating room, I saw this big machine with bunch of technicians standing around with laptops," said Liebchen. "And I was told that ROSA would be helping with the knee surgery."

ROSA allows surgeons to plan the operation before they make the first cut.

"It helps us understand the bony anatomy of the patient's knee. It helps us understand the alignment of the knee," said Dr. Harlan Levine of Hackensack University Medical Center.

It turns out that correcting the alignment of the leg and knee is only one part of a successful operation. The other is making sure the tendons, ligaments and muscles of the knee are also well-balanced.

"If you don't get the tissue balance right, the knee won't function normally in the short term and likely will not last as long," said Dr. Gregg Klein, also of Hackensack.

As Liebchen found out, having ROSA as a surgical assistant made a big difference in her recovery.

"I was back at work after seven weeks," she said.

ROSA is still too new to really know whether the knee replacements done with her help will really last longer. That's the data that Levine and Klein are gathering.

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