COMAL COUNTY, Texas — Families in the Hill Country living with knee issues are finding relief close to home with the help of robots, and the latest in medical technology.
Surgeons performing knee replacements at Resolute Health Hospital in New Braunfels are now using the latest and greatest in robotic tech. A Canyon Lake woman recently had the procedure and is getting back to her normal speed.
“Living in the Hill Country, you have (to have) good knees to walk around here,” Joy Klepac said.
She is almost three months post-op and gaining speed and strength every day.
“You can't stop me now,” Klepac said. “I can't put full weight on the knee yet, but it's almost there.”
The Canyon Lake woman struggled with knee pain and stiffness for a year before deciding to find help.
“The final straw was I went to a ladies' retreat, I was trying to climb up the ladder for the zip line and I couldn't raise my right knee at all," she said.
So, back in May, she met with Dr. Clayton Nuelle, an orthopaedic surgeon with TSAOG Orthopaedics who conducts procedures at Resolute Health Hospital in New Braunfels.
For the past eight months, Nuelle has been using Mako robotic-arm assisted technology for partial and total knee replacements.
He says Resolute is the only facility between San Antonio and Austin equipped with the tool.
“As a surgeon, that allows us to create a very patient-specific surgery and do it in a way that's minimally invasive and very precise and very accurate,” Nuelle said. “(It) allows us to really have very good outcomes, and patients recover much quicker and much faster than they otherwise used to.”
Before surgery, he makes a 3-D map of a patient’s knee. That model is then used to evaluate bone structure, disease severity, joint alignment, and even the surrounding bone and tissue to determine the best size, placement and alignment of the implant.
Throughout the procedure, Mako provides real-time data, allowing Nuelle to continuously assess the movement and tension of the new joint and adjust if needed. In the operating room, he guides Mako’s robotic arm to remove the arthritic bone and cartilage from the knee.
“For some patients, (this) is truly life-changing,” Nuelle said. “That's really fulfilling. That's why we're here and that's why we do what we do.”
For Klepac, the surgery means she can enjoy walks to feed the deer and take part in lake days on her family’s boat. She hopes neighbors dealing with their own issues know a solution is out there, and closer than they might think.
“Life is great again,” she said.