Robotic technology helps 78-year-old nun get back on her feet

Posted at 6:25 AM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 10:48:41-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - When 78-year-old Sister Margaret Castro needed a full knee replacement, she told the doctor all she wanted was to kneel again and get back to serving her community.

"We kneel to praise God and I couldn't do that. I had to sit during mass," said Sister Castro.

This month, Sister Castro celebrates 30 years of service at St. Rita's Catholic Church in San Diego. Earlier in life, she worked with Mother Teresa in India.

Sister Castro doesn't plan on retiring, ever. However, excruciating knee pain almost made her job impossible. Every day she must walk up and down a flight of stairs, and she is always on the move.

When Sister Castro learned about a revolutionary surgery being conducted at Scripps Mercy Hospital, she was all in.

Her doctor, Dr. David Fabi, said she was an ideal candidate.

"She wanted to get back to kneeling, which is a big part of what she does, it's her passion," said Fabi. "She had the motivation."

Fabi said with knee replacement, every millimeter matters.

The robotic technology he used was approved last year by the Food and Drug Administration for total knee replacement. It's called the NAVIO surgical system, and it captures a 3-D digital picture of bones and tissue, allowing for increased accuracy and precision.

The NAVIO technology doesn't require a pre-operative CT scan. Instead, the surgeon collects patient-specific data during the procedure through tiny sensors placed on the patient's knee and leg bones, which feed data to the computer.

Fabi has performed about 100 of these surgeries, the most of any doctor in the world. Patient satisfaction has been close to 100 percent.

"We wanted to improve our batting average, so to speak," said Fabi.

Sister Castro no longer has pain in her knee and recovery took just a couple weeks.

"I need to work until I can't go anymore. Why give up? And I have a new knee, so I can't give up," she said.