Robotic-assisted knee replacement makes world of difference

Surgery helps North Dakota rancher get back to walking and working without pain

A mature Sanford Health patient cares for a calf in a barn.

For Cheryl Keller, it started with a stabbing pain in her knee.

“It just got worse and worse. I was uncomfortable walking, doing steps, driving my truck and even sleeping at night. It was so painful,” she said.

Keller, who owns a ranch, had a lot of walking and driving to do day in and day out. So she needed pain relief fast.

At Sanford Health, Keller went through all her nonsurgical treatment options, but nothing worked for her knee pain and she needed a long-term solution. That’s when she connected with Coridon Huez, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Bismarck, North Dakota.

“He said right away that I looked like a candidate for total knee replacement surgery,” she said. “But he wanted to make sure that it was right for me.”

Dr. Huez asked why she wanted the surgery.

“I said I want to walk without pain. I want to get back to gardening. I want to get out there and do something without pain. That’s when he said OK, you’re a candidate,” Keller said.

When she had her surgery in February, Keller was among the first to get the procedure done at Sanford Health using a new technology.

“We’ve recently obtained robotic arm technology for performing knee replacements,” Dr. Huez said.

Robotic-assisted surgery uses a robotic arm and sensors to guide a surgeon during the procedure. It’s a tool that helps them be more exact when placing implants, even as they still make the cuts themselves.

“The robot isn’t performing the surgery, but it’s offering us a level of precision that we didn’t have before,” Dr. Huez said.

With robotic-assisted surgery, physicians can customize implants to every patient’s unique anatomy. The more the mechanical joint matches the old joint, the more natural it feels to the patient.

Keller is glad she had robotic surgery.

“They seem to be able to do more precise work with the bones,” she said. “I just thought it was really cool. And everything turned out so well.”

Dr. Huez has used the robotic arm for every procedure since getting access to the technology. In all, he’s performed robotic-assisted knee replacement surgeries on at least 30 patients in the past few months.

The robotic arm technology will likely also be used on hip replacement and partial knee replacement surgeries in the future.

For Keller, the surgery paid off.

“I was never off my feet for my recovery. They got me up out of the hospital bed a couple of hours after my surgery and I was walking around and started physical therapy. I was out the same day,” Keller said.

She’s back to walking without pain and in the habit of walking her dogs a mile every morning and night.

“I love it. I’ve got my life back and things are pretty much normal. Better than normal, actually,” she said.

To anyone considering total knee replacement surgery, especially robotic-assisted surgery, Keller has a simple message.

“Get it done. It makes a world of difference. I can walk without arthritic stabbing pain,” she said. “Do it. Don’t hesitate.”

To make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist at Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Bismarck, call (701) 323-8920.

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Posted In Bismarck, Orthopedics

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