David E. Lent, MD, FAAOS
Specialty: Orthopedic Surgery
Title: Chief of Orthopedic Surgery & Chief of Robotic Joint Replacement Surgery
Hospital: St. John’s Riverside Hospital-Andrus Pavilion
As Chief of Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Surgery at St. John’s Riverside Hospital, Dr. David Lent is among an elite few physicians trained in the high-tech robotics surgery known as MAKOplasty — a procedure that uses robots and GPS technology to perform knee and hip replacements. When Lent, who also practices sports medicine at his Yonkers-based office, was first introduced to MAKOplasty six years ago, he knew that the innovative technology was about to revolutionize his life’s work. “It’s been transformative to minimally invasive joint replacement,” he explains. “I love being able to work with people who were essentially wheelchair-bound or living in so much pain that their daily activities were markedly compromised, and, through surgery, help them return to doing the things they love.”
Today, Lent has been recognized by The Stryker Corporation as the national leading expert in this advanced robotic knee replacement. “MAKOplasty is still not in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, or the Bronx,” Lent says. “It is now in just one facility besides ours in all of Westchester, and I was the instructor to help those other surgeons learn to use the technology.” Lent also meets regularly with Westchester County high school coaches to provide advice and care for injured student athletes.
As the first MAKOplasty robotic surgeon in the Hudson Valley, you’ve been at this longer than anyone else in the area. Why is this robot such a big deal?
Until robotic surgery, we were eyeballing joint placements, meaning we were only as good and precise as our eyes could allow. With the robot, we use GPS technology to map the knee or hip, which allows us to perfectly position the joint replacement components in a way we never could before.
With the old technology, there were a considerable number of patients who still had problems, even after they had their joints replaced. Too many patients needed to have repeat surgeries to revise those problems. With the newest technology, the number of patients needing a repeat surgery is almost negligible. Even more, the robot is so precise that we can now remove just the damaged part of the knee for a partial knee replacement. That’s something we couldn’t do before.
What’s the biggest injury you see among student athletes?
For young athletes, strains and sprains are the most common concern. Most often, these athletes just need to be diagnosed appropriately and treated with medicines and physical therapy, so they can get back into the game. However, sometimes they have more severe injuries, such as broken bones, fractures, and ligament tears, which require surgery.
Any tips to keep these athletes injury-free?
The best information I can give is this: Train before you play the sport! Failing to do any preseason training to get strong for their sport is the number-one problem I see in young athletes. Kids watch their idols playing sports on TV, but they don’t realize that these elite athletes are in the gym constantly, working to get their legs, arms, and core strong.