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First patient in Iowa to have robot-assisted surgery has good results

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    Davenport, Iowa (Quad Cities Times) — Carolyn Richardson didn’t know she’d be making history Monday morning.

Richardson, 57, was the first patient in the Quad-Cities to receive orthopedic robot-assisted surgery using the Stryker Mako SmartTechnology TM system — the first time such advanced technology has been used in the area for partial and total joint replacements. The robot-assisted surgery is revolutionary in terms of minimally invasive incisions and recovery time.

Two of the Mako robotic systems were purchased by UnityPoint Health-Trinity and Mississippi Valley Surgery Center to be used at the Bettendorf hospital and the MVSC, 3400 Dexter Court, Davenport.

“I was a little surprised at first,” Richardson said upon hearing she would be the first patient to be operated on using the robotic arm.

“It’s a lot less invasive and a lot more precise,” she said. “I liked that aspect of it.”

Richardson, who lives in Silvis, said she is an avid walker. But her regular walks became shorter and less frequent when she began noticing discomfort with her hip four years ago. Physical therapy and chiropractor appointments didn’t help much, so she made an appointment with Dr. John Hoffman, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Orthopaedic Specialists, for an evaluation last summer.

“He said, ‘You need a hip replacement,’ which kind of caught me off guard,” Richardson said. “I didn’t want to do surgery at that time, so he said we could do some injections. I had two of those and got some relief from the first one. When I decided to do the surgery, they said it would be done robotically; they said I would come home the same day.

“I did a lot of research on it. It sounded like a really good option,” Richardson said. “I think it was a good thing to come home Monday because I still had a lot of the pain medication in my system.”

Two days after the surgery, Richardson said she still felt a “little rough,” but better than the day before. Although she was sent home with a walker, she’s been able to stand and walk unassisted for brief periods of time.

“Although joint replacement surgery isn’t unique to the Quad-Cities, having robot-assisted technology is,” said Brad Crowder, executive director of Orthopaedic Specialists. “This is a first for the Quad-City market. The benefits of using the robot are a smaller incision site.”

Another benefit is the software used for the machine. A 3D CT scan is taken of the surgical area of the body, which allows the physician to see through ligaments and tissue and customize the surgery based on the patient’s anatomy.

Because there were no local physicians trained on how to use the Mako robotic arm, UnityPoint Health brought in Dr. Robert Cagle, M.D., who moved to the Quad-Cities from San Jose, Calif. He will be employed by Orthopaedic Specialists and serve as director of robotics for UnityPoint Health-Trinity. He has been training Hoffman on how to use the machine.

If other surgeons in the Quad Cities become certified to use the Mako robot at UnityPoint Health, they also will join the orthopedics care team.

“It’s pretty amazing stuff with what we can do,” Cagle said. “The last five years has been really exciting for advancements in joint replacement surgery. I think the future is going with technology because of what we can do with custom replacement surgery.”

Cagle estimates he has done more than 500 robotic joint replacement surgeries.

Richardson said she will begin rehab next Monday — just one week after her surgery — and have a followup appointment with Hoffman on Feb. 16.

“In reference to the pain I had before (surgery) compared to the pain I have now, I can tell it’s all muscular pain from bruising as opposed to the bone-on-bone pain I had from before,” she said. “There is definitely a difference in the pain sensation from what I had before surgery.

“I think once I get further into recovery, I’ll be even more glad I did this. I would definitely recommend it.”

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