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Retired HR Director gives full marks for robotic-assisted surgery!

Retired HR Director Bob Dwyer was one of the first patients to have robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery at BMI The Princess Margaret Hospital in Windsor in August 2019.

Bob, age 71, a keen golfer, rugby follower, gardener and swimmer had suffered from persistent problems in his lower back and pain in his thigh. After some physiotherapy treatment had given temporary relief he visited his GP who referred him to an orthopaedic surgeon – resulting in him having an arthroscopy on his knee. Things seemed to improve but 18 months ago he found walking more difficult, physically struggled to play golf, and his posture became worse. His mobility was so affected that he had to use a walking stick to help with any uneven ground and walking downhill. He went back to see his orthopaedic surgeon Mr Unwin who suggested, after X rays and MRI scans, that he see Mr Bourke, a specialist knee surgeon.

Bob saw Mr Bourke in the February and was due to have non-robotic knee surgery that month, but he unexpectedly suffered a pulmonary embolism which required urgent treatment resulting in a delay of the operation for six months. However, when he later returned to see Mr Bourke he was advised that BMI The Princess Margaret Hospital was shortly acquiring the MAKO robot for hip and knee surgery and Mr Bourke was able to offer the option of this robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery, which was considered to be pioneering surgery.

Bob said “I was made aware of the option of robotic surgery and that there was a possibility I could have this procedure. I understood that the cutting in the operation would be more precise with the robotic assistance and that my recovery should be quicker and more pain free. I willingly accepted the option of this procedure. This was my first ever major surgery and my only previous surgery had been my knee arthroscopy.”

He was booked in to have the surgery in August, meaning he was one of the first knee patients to have this procedure at the Windsor based hospital.

Bob did not sleep well the first night after the operation but the next day, with the physiotherapist, he was up walking on crutches on the level and up and down stairs. After two nights at BMI The Princess Margaret Hospital, he was allowed back home. He was given detailed exercises to do and had to regularly apply an icepack to his badly swollen and bruised knee and leg. He added that “I had expected that I might be in a fair amount of pain after the operation and I was given pain killing drugs to go home with. To my surprise, whilst there was discomfort, the pain level was relatively low and I only needed pain killers for a couple of days.”

Bob found that sticking to the discipline of planned exercises and icing treatment supported by physiotherapy at the hospital was critical for his recovery. His review with Mr Bourke after six weeks  showed his recovery on track and he was able to stop the icing and exercises although he continued with more physiotherapy. In total, he had nine physiotherapy sessions at the hospital.  Importantly he was also able to drive again after the six weeks and start playing golf again after three months.

His final review with Mr Bourke was in December when Mr Bourke confirmed how well his recovery had gone and discharged him from his care. Bob summarised his experience of this surgery thus:

“I am walking properly for the first time in 18 months. I have some stiffness in my leg and the odd twinge but this is minor compared to the difficulty I previously had walking. The robotic procedure seemed to leave me with much less pain than I had expected after surgery. When I had my final meeting with Mr Bourke, he told me how pleased he was with my progress telling me at the same time that a full recovery would take up to 12 months. I have been very happy and relieved with the whole process and the care I received before and after the operation.“

Mr Bourke concluded “I have been delighted with Bob’s speed of recovery and that he is back playing golf as well as his enjoying his other passions. Robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery is exciting new technology.  It is allowing us to do knee replacement surgery more precisely than we have ever done before. I wish Bob all the best in the coming years.”