Heartland Orthopedic Specialists’ 500th Mako Joint Patient Now Back to Active

Julie Hansen, 61, of Alexandria, entered retirement at the start of the year, a celebratory achievement soured by intense hip pain that had worsened over the past five years. She ultimately went to see local total joint expert Dr. Dennis Weigel at Heartland Orthopedic Specialists for her solution.

“My first consultation with Dr. Weigel went well. I was comfortable with his manner. He gave me all of my options and choices,” said Julie. “I had gone in with the idea that I was ready for surgery because I’d seen my husband go through that, and we knew all the symptoms and signs.”

Dr. Weigel recommended that Julie go forward with a Mako® robotic-assisted total hip replacement. Heartland Orthopedic Specialists was the first practice in the region to utilize this innovative technology for joint replacement, and today, the practice still has the only team offering the technology within one hour east or three hours west.

“I believe the Mako system provides several advantages in total hip replacement,” explained Dr. Weigel. “First of which is a very accurate preoperative plan based off the CT scan. We are then able to compare that plan during surgery to the patient’s anatomy, then we can accurately place the implant utilizing the robotic-arm. We are also able to accurately assess limb length and offset (muscle tension) to more accurately restore normal hip movement dynamics with the Mako system.” 

To date, Dr. Weigel has performed over 150 joint replacements utilizing the Mako robotic-arm system, and Julie was the practice’s 500th Mako patient. As a total joint expert, Dr. Weigel averages over 100 joint replacements performed per year and has been with the Heartland Orthopedic Specialists group since 2000. 

“Even that same day of surgery, I was back on my feet and walking the halls and everything was wonderful,” and Julie’s pain in post-op recovery, she said, was really minimal. “I was very, very pleased.”

After her Mako hip replacement, Julie was able to walk 6,000 steps the day after she got home from surgery. Now averaging at least 10,000 steps per day, Julie’s results have been undeniably stellar.

“The advantage of Mako assisted total joint replacement is that we are much more accurate with recreating the joint kinematics, alignment, and implant position,” said Dr. Weigel. “It is like target shooting with open sights versus target shooting with a scope. You are going to hit the bullseye of the target more often with better equipment.”

On top of the accuracy and efficiency in surgery, Julie was well prepared by the total joint team at Heartland Orthopedic Specialists before and after surgery for a smooth recovery and an optimized outcome.

“The idea that they give you preoperative and postoperative exercises is wonderful. The instructions for at-home care were very well laid out and designed,” said Julie. “It’s all very, very helpful as far as me understanding what to expect and what was going to happen and what I needed to do.”

“With all the different nurses and doctors I was with, I was very pleased with everyone’s skill level and professionalism,” added Julie of her surgical experience at Alomere Health. “I thought it was overall a very, very good experience for me.”

“We are fortunate to have a talented and dedicated staff at Alomere Health,” said Dr. Weigel. “It is a team effort that allows our patients to have the best possible outcome after their surgery. This includes our anesthesia service, nursing staff, surgical tech, sterile processing department, physical therapist, and joint camp. Our administration has also been very supportive of our goal to provide state-of-the-art orthopedic care to our patients in west central Minnesota.”

Heartland Orthopedic Specialists and the Joint Replacement Center at Alomere Health provided the exceptional, efficient care and education Julie needed every step of the way—from her state-of-the-art procedure to her total recovery. With just two physical therapy visits in combination with diligently following the comprehensive at-home instructions, Julie was able to reach her goals. 

“Before scheduling the surgery, I had made plans to go to northern Minnesota with a few other couples to go hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail,” said Julie. “I had a goal five weeks out after surgery to be able to go do that. So, that’s what we did.”

If you’re determined to overcome your joint pain and live better just like Julie, call (800) 762-1177 today or schedule an appointment online to see if you’re a candidate for a Mako joint replacement with the experts at Heartland Orthopedic Specialists.