Double or Nothing For Kyle James, the opportunity to have both knees repaired at one time was one he couldn’t pass up.

Between coaching at his boxing gym and the significant walking and bending involved in his day job as an accounts manager with Southwest Beverage, Kyle James, 47, of Lake Charles, knew that he had to find a solution for his constant knee pain.

“I felt like my knees needed grease, like I was the Tin Man,” Kyle says. “I don’t go to the doctor, really, but the pain was bone on bone. It was like sand was in my knee. I don’t know how I made it through a day, to tell you the truth.”

Kyle saw Jonathan Foret, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon at CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital, who diagnosed him with osteoarthritis in both knees. Though Kyle and Dr. Foret tried conservative treatments for close to a year, including anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections and injections of a gel intended to relieve arthritis pain, nothing brought the relief Kyle needed.

“He was significantly limited in the activities he wanted to do,” Dr. Foret says. “Both of his knees were appropriate for replacement, due to his symptoms and the severity of his arthritis, so he chose to have both of his knees replaced at the same time.”

What Makes a Mako Procedure?

In traditional knee replacements, orthopaedic surgeons use mechanical guides pinned to the patient’s bone to know where to cut. With MAKO Robotic-Arm Assisted Technology, surgeons now have an unparalleled level of planning opportunity.

“Using the computed tomography scan, we can create a three-dimensional model of the knee,” says Jonathan Foret, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon at CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital. “With that model, we have a very detailed picture of how the components of the knee replacement are going to fit in the patient’s knee. We know precisely what size we should use and how to position them.”

That kind of precision — the ability to cut to a tenth of a millimeter — leads to a high level of reproducibility. This means surgeons are able to perform more knee replacements, and perform them more accurately and successfully.

“People recover at a faster rate,” Dr. Foret says. “We see less people struggle with stiffness, because we know before we leave the operating room how much their knee can straighten or bend. People who receive a knee replacement using the MAKO system can have a pain-free knee that moves through a full range of motion, allowing them to get back to their activities and enjoy life.”

TWO FOR ONE

Most patients don’t have osteoarthritis severe enough in both knees to make replacing them both necessary. For those like Kyle who do, choosing a bilateral knee replacement — where replacements are fitted to both knees during one procedure — can mean less time recovering than doing one knee at a time.

“We use MAKO Robotic-Arm Assisted Technology, which customizes the placement and fitting of each replacement into the knee,” Dr. Foret says. “When someone chooses a bilateral knee replacement, we typically start with one of the legs, and once that knee is done, we move to the other leg, but this allows us to preform both knee replacements in one trip to the operating room.”
Kyle spent only one night in the hospital before heading home the next morning.

“The surgery itself was kind of hurry up and wait, but it went well, and the nurses at CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital were great,” Kyle says. “I had to use a crutch, but I could physically put weight on both my knees the next morning.”

A SINGLE RECOVERY

Kyle began walking less than a day after his surgery, and he was back to walking without assistance one week later. “I went to physical therapy up to the end of the year,” Kyle says. “I used a walker the first week after I left the hospital, but by the time the next week rolled around, I didn’t need a walker or a cane. I wasn’t trying to win a competition with my walking or anything, but I was doing well.”

Of course, recovery from a major surgery like knee replacement is never simple. For Kyle, it took the power of family — his wife Celese, father Jesse and mother Billie Cormier — who helped him get out of the house and keep moving. His father picked him up in the mornings and took Kyle to work with him so Kyle could walk around the office and climb stairs, and his wife made sure he spent time at his boxing gym in the evenings.

“People think they should rest all the time after surgery, but I would say do not try to relax and sleep all day,” Kyle says. “Get up and move around, even if it’s just walking to and from the car, right from the beginning. It makes a huge difference.”