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‘I want to stay as active as I can…’

MAKOplasty knee replacement surgery can change everything

Vietnam vet Bob Weiss, 77, had suffered knee problems off and on for over 30 years. Although various treatments worked for a while, the relief was only temporary and his knees resumed aching whenever he worked on his family farm.

The problem was the meniscus — soft tissue in the knee which acts as shock absorbers to cushion the lower part of the leg from the weight of the rest of the body.

When Weiss served in the Army, he received treatment for his meniscus problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “That lasted me for quite a while; until I left the military and came into civilian life,” Weiss said.

In civilian life, his knee problems got to the point where they affected his everyday life. Weiss started thinking about knee replacement, but had some hesitation because he’d heard some horror stories from his friends about full knee replacements.

He brought his dilemma to Dr. John Kim, surgeon with Northern Virginia Orthopaedic Specialists who’d been treating Weiss since the mid 2000’s.

Kim recommended Weiss have a MAKOplasty knee replacement, which is a robotic-arm-assisted procedure that can be used to partially replace the knee.

The MAKO system “works by using a 3-D image, created through the patient’s own CT scan, to plan the exact size and orientation of the implant to be fitted,” Kim said “This is truly precision medicine because it provides the tools to be more consistent and accurate in positioning of joint implants.”

Weiss had a partial knee replacement at Novant Health UVA Health System Prince William Medical Center that added about 15 years to the life of his left knee. A week later, he was back at work at Prince William County’s public works department, where he’s the building and grounds division chief.

“Most patients I perform knee surgery on using the MAKO system return home the same day,” Kim said. But he also emphasized the importance of physical therapy after surgery in order to achieve the best results.

Weiss participated in therapy three days a week with a physical therapist, and also had exercises to complete at home.

“It was a short period of time before I asked Dr. Kim about my other knee,” Weiss said. “Even knowing that each knee is different and each surgery is different, I went into it very positively and was very pleased with everything the hospital did.”

It’s been about three years since Weiss had his second partial knee replacement and he remains pleased with the results.

“I had faith in the doctor and in the process,” Weiss said. “Given the option to do a partial knee replacement ... it was common sense for me to go ahead and get it done.”

These days, Weiss moves around the family farm with more ease. “I want to stay as active as I possibly can and these knee surgeries have helped me to do that,” Weiss said. “I still work a day job and work at the farm with my horse and chickens.” One more bonus:  it allows him to keep up with his four grandchildren, ages 3 to 16.

And as the population ages, Weiss is in good company. More than 7 million Americans have had a knee or hip replacement surgery, according to the American Joint Replacement Registry. Those numbers are expected to climb substantially in coming years.

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Published: 1/15/2018