Newswise — A robotic-assisted hip replacement with virtual range of motion (VROM) technology has enabled a 38-year-old patient to resume one of her greatest passions in life: horseback riding. Not long ago, a painful and debilitating hip condition left her wondering if she would ever be able to walk again without crutches, let alone ride a horse. 

Susan*, who lives in the south, credits Dr. Geoffrey Westrich at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City with giving her life back to her. She says it was a long and difficult journey, and she conducted extensive research to find the care she needed.

She had her first surgery in 2020 in her home state after being diagnosed with hip impingement, a shallow hip socket and a labral tear. Unfortunately, the outcome was far from what she had hoped for. Her pain continued unabated, and she needed crutches to get around. In the past, she loved running and horseback riding. Now she could barely get out of a car without assistance from her husband and daughter. Shopping trips at the mall required a wheelchair.

After a terrible year, consultations with other doctors, an MRI that showed a failed surgery, and the crushing realization that her condition was only getting worse, Susan made up her mind to find a solution. “I was determined to find the best hospital and the best doctor who could help me,” she said. Conducting research online, she found the highly rated Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) and Dr. Westrich, who is highly specialized in surgical treatments for debilitating hip and knee injuries and conditions.

In 2021, she made the trip to New York City to see him. “When I first saw her, it was a bit surprising to see someone her age limping into my office on crutches and experiencing such pain,” Dr. Westrich recalls. "You really felt for her situation." 

After a thorough medical history, careful diagnostic testing, a consultation with an HSS rheumatologist, and a discussion of her goals and options, Susan and Dr. Westrich decided she would come back to New York for a robotic-assisted total hip replacement with new virtual range of motion technology for an ultra-precise surgery.

“I had been so nervous about going into another surgery after the first one failed so badly. I was afraid it would happen again,” she said. “But when I was with Dr. Westrich and he said he could fix my hip, I literally cried.”

Dr. Westrich used a high-tech system to take CT scans of Susan’s hip joint before surgery to enable detailed advance planning and a customized procedure. With the latest VROM software, Dr. Westrich is also able to plan placement of the implant through different ranges of motion based on the patient's anatomy.

During surgery, he controlled a robotic arm that used computer‐guided mapping software, similar to GPS, integrated into the surgical instruments. The digital tracking system constantly monitors and updates the patient’s anatomy and enables the surgeon to make real‐time adjustments to optimize implant placement, alignment, ligament balance and joint motion. This provides each patient with a surgery tailored to his or her individual anatomy.

Susan and her husband spent three weeks in New York City when she had the surgery. It was a success. Four months later, she achieved her greatest goal: she got back on her cherished horse.

“Patients have come to HSS from many different places for the highly specialized care we offer. It’s not uncommon for them to find out about the hospital from a physician, a family member or a friend,” Dr. Westrich noted. “And often, patients themselves are their own best advocate, conducting painstaking research to explore all of their options and find the specialized care they truly need.”

*Patient’s name changed to protect her privacy.