Robotic Knee Surgery at Appalachian Orthopedics Helps Local Grandma Get Back in Action

You may already know that robotics in healthcare is the wave of the future, but what you may not know is that robotic surgery is changing lives for the better locally, right here at Appalachian Orthopedics.

Take Lolita McClellan of Wise County, VA, for example. The 68-year-old grandmother had sworn never to get another knee replacement after an unpleasant experience. This summer, she did go ahead with another knee replacement, this time under the care of Dr. Gabriel Hommel, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Appalachian Orthopedics. 

As with many of his recent knee replacement patients, Dr. Hommel used the innovative Mako® Robotic-Arm Assisted Technology system designed for precision.

“I had previously had a knee replacement at another facility, and I swore that I would never, ever have another knee replacement," said Lolita, “but I’m certainly glad that I did go to Dr. Hommel because the care that I received was just outstanding.” 

Two weeks after her procedure, Lolita was back to doing what she does every day.

Dr. Hommel and his fellow surgeons at Appalachian Orthopedics in Abingdon, Bristol, and Johnson City have raised the standard of care for local joint replacement with the Mako knee procedure, adding improved accuracy for better patient safety and more outcomes like Lolita had with her drastically upgraded second knee replacement. 

“I had osteoarthritis, and I was rubbing bone on bone,” explained Lolita. “As a matter of fact, I nicknamed my knee ‘Snap, Crackle, and Pop.’ After talking to Dr. Hommel and the other associates at Appalachian Orthopedics, I thought it would be a good thing to do because I felt like I could trust Dr. Hommel. He just gave me that peace of knowing that he would do the best that he could.”

For Lolita, there was a world of difference with her second knee replacement. “On the other procedure, when I woke up from the surgery, I was hooked up to this monstrosity of a machine with my leg up in the air—It was just a bad experience altogether,” she said. “But this time when I woke up, I just had a small icepack on my knee, and I had absolutely no pain whatsoever.”

That difference of care was a combined effort of the devoted staff of Appalachian Orthopedics, Dr. Hommel’s skill and experience, and Mako technology.

“A knee replacement is a resurfacing procedure of a joint where we go in and open a joint up and remove the arthritic surfaces,” explained Dr. Hommel. Typically, these cuts involve the use of cutting blocks and guides to align an implant properly. “With Mako, all the alignment referencing is done through the computer and the preoperative CT scan—the robot will give you objective data on implant placement.

“The robotic-arm, once you position it for each specific cut,” Dr. Hommel continued, “it will not let you deviate from the specified planes. As you’re making the cut, you’re actually watching it on a screen in real-time. It’s a little more precise than using cutting blocks and cutting guides, and it may actually prove to be a little bit safer.”

“Raising four grandchildren, I get a lot of exercise,” said Lolita. That includes lots of walking, fishing, and even occasional deer hunting. “It was the best experience I’ve ever had as far as surgery and the outcome,” she added. “I’ve been telling anybody and everybody that I talk to that if they need any kind of joint replacement, Appalachian Orthopedics is the place to go.”

If you’d like to speak with Dr. Hommel or one of the many joint replacement experts at Appalachian Orthopedics to see if you’re a candidate for a robotic-assisted joint replacement, request an appointment online or call one of our four locations: AbingdonBristol – Hospital, Bristol Midway, or Johnson City.