Web exclusive: Cayuga Medical Center invests in the future, and patient care

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Everyone knows the future is technology, and that includes Cayuga Medical Center (CMC). On Monday, March 11, CMC showcased a new addition to its medical care in the form of robotic-assisted technology to be used for partial and complete knee replacement surgery.

On Monday, CMC staff and media were given the chance to “test” the new NAVIO Surgical System in a virtual reality training module. Starting next month, CMC surgeons will be able to use the newly acquired technology in surgery.

“This was an issue that really came from our physician community. In particular, Dr. Deirdre Blake,” said Dr. Martin Stallone, current President and CEO of Cayuga Health Systems and Cayuga Medical Associates. “We are proud to support our physician initiatives. It’s often the physicians who understand the latest and the greatest in care.”

CMC invested somewhere in the “mid to high six figures” Stallone said.

With this technology, Dr. Blake argued that joint replacement surgeries could be less expensive for CMC patients because they would no longer have the expenses of traveling to another hospital on top of the cost of the actual procedure. Where there used to be a gap in care because the patients in the CMC network had to travel for surgery, that gap will now be closed. All the care for the surgery can now happen in one network.

Investing in robotic surgery, Blake explained, was a request that came from the patients. The new system also comes with more bonuses for the patient than just less travel time.

“People that are appropriate patients for a partial replacement can certainly expect a shorter incision, shorter recovery time, faster back to work,” Blake said.

The NAVIO system helps surgeons map out the patient’s anatomy before surgery. Using that map, the technology will set up the equipment to only work when within range of the surgical area, and measure out a specific distance for the surgeon to cut. This means less testing for the surgeons and more certainty with each incision and placement for the implant.

While right now CMC envisions the technology to be used for knee replacement, Blake said she sees the potential for it to be used in other joint surgeries including hip replacements and knee revision surgeries.

“Those are the most technically challenging, in my opinion,” she said. “But the uses are really endless.” CMC is evaluating its robotics program to become larger than just this system, Stallone said. More will be decided in the coming months.

The NAVIO system was developed by Smith & Nephew, a medical technology company with headquarters in the United Kingdom. A Smith & Nephew representative who had been with the system for months was on hand at the event to demonstrate through the virtual reality technology how it worked. After deciding exactly what CMC wanted the technology for, Blake said they evaluated the available technology and companies that offered it and settled on the UK company.

While the technology may be new to CMC, it’s not new to the medical world. Surgeons at CMC have already trained on robotic systems, Blake said.

“The majority of us trained with this all through residency,” she said. “Robotic surgery has been around for a long time. But, in smaller community hospitals you don’t always have the resources to have it.”

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