By Kyle LoJacono
Zephyrhills resident Burvellee Cook had her left knee completely replaced in 2008, which prevented her from walking for about two weeks.
She had to go to a short-term rehabilitation center for three weeks and was not back to full strength for months. After that experience, she was overjoyed to hear Florida Hospital Zephyrhills now has a way to cut that recovery time dramatically.
“I was so thankful to have it done this way,” said Cook, who had her right knee partially replaced at the Zephyrhills facility. “I was able to get up right after the surgery and walk around with a walker. The next day I didn’t even need a walker.”
The fast rebound was made possible because the facility now uses robotic arm guided surgery to perform partial knee resurfacing of those with early to mid-stage osteoarthritis.
“The MAKOplasty system fits perfectly and allows for perfect precision when we’re putting in a plate,” said Dr. Randolph Knight, orthopedic surgeon with Florida Hospital Zephyrhills Orthopaedic & Spine Institute. “It’s less invasive and more of the patient’s natural knee remains. The goal is for patients to have more natural knee motion post-operatively. It’s the first major improvement in partial knee replacements.”
The new procedure allows patients to use fewer painkillers after the operation, while losing less blood in the process. Knight added the hospital is the only one in Pasco County currently offering the procedure.
The new robotic system allows surgeons to make a pre-surgical plan that details the techniques for bone preparation and customizes the positioning of the implant using a CT scan of the patient’s knee.
“Precision is the key in planning and performing partial knee surgeries,” Knight said. “We can put a plate in that is within one-half of a millimeter.”
During the operation, the system creates a 3-D virtual view of the patient’s bone surface and applies the image to the surgical plan. This limits the plan to viewing only the problem areas for each individual.
The surgeon is then guided by a precise robotic arm to resurface the joint before it becomes severe osteoarthritis, which would require more invasive and extensive surgery.
“The surgeon is still holding the tool and making the cuts, but the arm doesn’t let me cut somewhere I’m not supposed to,” Knight said. “It means only the damaged area is replaced.”
Another advantage is the MAKO replacements last much longer than traditional ones, which failed after a few years. Knight said he trusts them so much that his father F. Coyne Knight, who lives near his son in Zephyrhills, had both his knees partially replaced with this method. Knight said his father hobbled along with a walker, but today is moving around fine and has very little if any pain.
Knight said the older population in east Pasco will benefit from the procedure because the condition is very common, especially in older populations. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and a leading cause of disability in the world, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Cook had her right knee surgery on March 7, the first at the hospital. She said the pain is similar to her first operation, but the recovery time has surprised her.
“It’s only been a couple days, but I’m able to cook and clean and do the other daily chores again,” said Cook, who started having problems with her other knee about a year ago. She then added. “Before I had so much pain I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t take my dog (Dee Dee) for walks anymore.”
Cook has had Dee Dee for five years and said the two would go on walks of about a mile each day. While she cannot do that yet, she hopes to be out with her companion again very soon.
“We’ll be able to take our long walks again,” Cook said. “That will be quite a treat.”