Wife and Mom, Farmer and Double Knee Replacement Patient
"With the new knee implants, I can get out and do things I haven’t been able to do in years."
Her Two New Knees Are Lined Up for Success
Despite a serious car wreck 26 years ago that crushed the ankle and severely fractured the bone below the knee of her right leg, Jackie Geeck, 45, of Coleman continued living a busy life.
“Nothing really ever stopped me, but it was a struggle,” she said. “We have a 60-acre farm and I’m an outdoors person. I love it. My husband does the crops and I raise cattle, pigs and chickens. We have two girls in college and I also work full-time. I don’t sit much.”
Jackie had about 15 surgeries to address problems from the wreck. Over time, both knees began to suffer. When her right knee bothered her, she let the left one to do all the work. For about 10 years, she worked with Orthopaedic Surgeon David T. Bortel, M.D., to ease the increasing pain in both knees with steroid shots and other therapies.
“I had a hard time going up and down steps, and hadn’t ridden a bike in the last five or six years,” Jackie said. “Finally, this year, the pain wasn’t just in my knees anymore; it started traveling up and down the bones. That’s when Dr. Bortel said it was time for new knees.”
Surgeon sees beyond traditional surgery with new, more accurate approach
As a young, active person with two damaged knees, a fused right ankle, and years of work and play ahead of her, Jackie was looking at a complex situation.
With the traditional approach to knee implants, used for more than 30 years, the surgeon can’t fully assess what the patient needs until surgery is under way, and has to “eyeball” the alignment of the new joint then and there. A misaligned implant could contribute to early implant failure and other problems, which for Jackie, would have been multiplied by two.
But Dr. Bortel saw things differently.
“An MRI image showed us Jackie’s knees in three dimensions, true to size and shape, and enabled production of custom surgical templates and computer-verified implant sizing for Jackie,” said Dr. Bortel.
“This new approach gives the surgeon a new point of view. We could align Jackie’s replacement knees within a margin of error of less than one half of one degree,” he said.
By seeing things differently, Dr. Bortel helped Jackie’s new knees work more like natural knees and minimize uneven wear, which could help them last longer.
Joint templating technology results in shorter and less painful recovery for patient
Dr. Bortel used the templating system to replace Jackie’s left knee in April and her right knee in June. With this technique, the surgeries were shorter and less invasive, and they spared muscles and ligaments in the knees, so her recovery was shorter and less painful.
Jackie said she enjoyed working with Dr. Bortel for these surgeries and over the years. “He’s down-to-earth. Whenever I’d go in, he would ask about my life, want to know how things were going,” she said. “It’s nice when your doctor takes the trouble to know who you are.”
Jackie said her family has been more than supportive as they have gone through so much, and now it’s wonderful to do things together.
“I feel better, not so tired. I can get out and do things I haven’t been able to do in years. Eight weeks out from her second surgery, she and her husband, Dave, even went dancing. “My husband saw me and said, ‘I didn’t know it was you. You’re not limping!’” Last week my daughter and I went out on the rail trail together. She rollerbladed and I rode my bike,” she said.
Jackie’s story is just one example of MidMichigan’s advanced technology and expertise that helps MidMichigan physicians see things differently. Implant surgery utilizing MRI-based templates is just one of many state-of-the-art options MidMichigan Health offers for treating orthopaedic conditions. For help finding an orthopaedic surgeon, call MidMichigan Health Line toll-free at (800) 999-3199 or visit our Find a Doctor page.