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Hard-Fought Freedom from Knee Pain

When Bryan Mullaney came to NorthShore Orthopaedic Institute, he was just 40 years old. But his right knee looked and felt like it belonged to his grandfather. The pain was so bad, Mullaney recalled, that getting out of bed each morning required a willful “You can do this!” speech to himself.


Life in the Slow Lane
Mullaney, a registered nurse from Morton Grove, suffers from the rare genetic joint disease pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS). It causes the thin layer of tissue that lines the joints and tendons to thicken and overgrow, sometimes resulting in benign tumors. Diagnosed with PVNS at a young age, pain controlled Mullaney’s life and prevented him from enjoying the simplest pleasures like playing with his young son.

“Limping was a daily part of my routine,” explained Mullaney. “My choices were limited by how much walking and how much standing the activity would require.”

Desperate for relief, Mullaney’s internist referred him to NorthShore Orthopaedic Institute Surgeon Lalit Puri, MD, MBA, Division Head of Adult Reconstruction. Renowned for expertise in robot-assisted surgery, Dr. Puri presented Mullaney with a customized plan for joint replacement surgery in his right knee. He would use the advanced Mako™ robotic-arm to assist him in the operating room.

Personalized Robotic Precision
“With Bryan’s PVNS, his history of knee pain and severe arthritis, it was extremely important for the soft tissue and prosthetic knee to be perfectly aligned so they could work together anatomically,” said Dr. Puri, who also holds an academic title at the Pritzker School of Medicine. “By using robotic-arm assistance, we could provide him with a surgical experience based on his exact anatomy.”

A CT scan generated a virtual 3-D model of Mullaney’s knee. The virtual model was loaded into the Mako™ robotic arm software system, which gave Dr. Puri an operating plan uniquely tailored for Mullaney. Besides precise placement of the prosthetic, robotic surgery also can “lead to a more normal-feeling knee early in the recovery process,” added Dr. Puri.

Indeed, Mullaney said the minute he stood up after surgery, he could tell the bone pain was completely gone.

“I can now walk without regard for the distance. I can walk with speed and intent,” said a relieved Mullaney, adding that he’s looking forward to playing with both sons in the park this summer. He and his wife Caryn had their second child in January.