March 24, 2023
Not many people come in excited for a joint replacement, but that is exactly how Ray Absolon felt when he had his left knee replaced just 10 weeks after having his right one done.
Ray did quite a bit of research before having a knee replacement – he was determined to have a successful outcome. His research led to Ilya Bendich, MD, MBA, an adult joint reconstruction surgeon at Washington University Orthopedics. Dr. Bendich, WashU Ortho, and advanced technology available at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital led to incredible outcomes in Ray's total knee replacements.
WashU Ortho and Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital utilize the latest in joint replacement technology, including robotic-assisted joint replacement. With this technology, contrary to what some imagine, a robot does not perform the surgery. In fact, a robotic knee replacement is similar to a traditional knee replacement, where a surgeon removes damaged or diseased tissue and replaces it with an implant. The difference is that it is done with the assistance of a robotic arm. "We are in control the entire time," says Bendich. "We are specially trained and skilled at using this technology, and the robot allows us to follow our surgical plan precisely."
Utilization of innovative technology begins well before surgery...with sophisticated surgical planning software. Using advanced imaging, WashU Ortho surgeons visualize a patient's anatomy with a 3D model and create a personalized joint replacement plan. Using that surgical blueprint, the robot allows WashU Ortho surgeons to cut only what is planned and make adjustments in real time, protecting healthy bone.
"The goal is to get patients back to doing what they love, quicker," adds Bendich. "Using this technology helps us do that for our patients."
Ray is thrilled to sing praises of Dr. Bendich. "When I saw Dr. Bendich, there was no question that I needed a knee replacement. He told me the X-rays showed my knee was bone-on-bone and I had no meniscus left. He was really patient with me though." From that first appointment, Ray trusted Dr. Bendich and continued to be overly impressed with attentive care before and after his operation. "Dr. Bendich called the night before surgery. He took time to listen to me and made sure I was at ease about surgery the next day," Ray explained. "He called to check in on me once I was recovering at home, too."
Ray progressed through recovery remarkably after the right knee replacement. His physical therapists were impressed and he was the model patient with an exceptional 120-degree bend just three weeks after surgery. He had minimal pain and swelling, and much less pain during recovery than before his operation. Ray was in need of a total joint replacement for both his right and left knee, and he actually looked forward to the day he was able to have his left knee replaced.
With advancing technology, patients like Ray are experiencing a relatively quick return to a better quality of life. Robotic technology use is growing across the country in joint replacements, but the midwest has the lowest utilization. Washington University Orthopedics is a pioneer in robotic joint replacement, with specialists who perform a high-volume of these surgeries and conduct research on this technology. WashU Ortho surgeons are performing over 500 of these procedures every year and maximizing patient outcomes.
Ray continues to do exceptionally well in his recovery. He is walking independently, and was even using the elliptical six weeks after his left knee was replaced. With two well-working knees, Ray can get back to enjoying retirement and living his life without the limitation of "bad" knees.
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