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LATEST KNEE SURGERY TECHNOLOGY HELPS PATIENT BACK TO HIS FEET

January 11, 2019

By Sharon Harrington, Nanticoke Health Services

Frank Leonhartt is used to being on his feet. Though he is “retired,” he works part-time for the University of Maryland System in the field of construction engineering providing project oversight. His job - making sure the job is being done right.

Over time, Frank developed back, hip and knee pain. He went through physical therapy that helped, but the knee pain remained. Frank’s knee pain became progressively worse. He has had therapy and a cortisone injection in the past. Just as it is for so many others suffering with knee pain, there came a point when these no longer worked.

For Frank, the turning point came during one of his recent work assignments. While walking up and down, and all around a six floor building at Salisbury University, the pain became too much. “It really hurt,” he said. “I’m the eyes and ears of the construction project, but if I can’t walk the floors or climb the stairs, I can’t get to where the work is being done. I can’t do my job. The pain became so bad, I had to stop work. It was unbearable. I needed to find something that would help me get back to work.”

Frank called and scheduled an appointment with Dr. William Doran, a surgeon with Nanticoke Orthopedic Surgery in Seaford, Delaware. Frank has seen Dr. Doran in the past. While he didn’t know Dr. Doran was performing knee replacement surgery using the new Mako Robotic Arm-Assisted System, he did know he needed help. Dr. Doran offered a solution.

Frank was scheduled for testing and it was quickly determined he was a candidate for knee replacement surgery. He was then scheduled for a CT scan to map his knee. The Mako Robotic Arm-Assisted technology uses the CT scan to map a person’s knee, allowing the surgeon to develop an individualized surgical plan ahead of the procedure. The mapping and planning process allows for a custom fit with more precise removal of damaged bone and a custom fit for the implant. This means less pain and quicker recovery.

Frank completed Nanticoke’s Joint Camp to help prepare him for surgery. Here he learned what to expect during and after the surgery. He was provided exercises to do before the surgery to help strengthen the joint and was able to meet the people who would be taking care of him at the hospital. Frank then had surgery the last week in November.

“The team at Nanticoke had me up and walking right away,” said Frank. “I was discharged the next day. Two weeks later, I’m doing great. I have 100% mobility and range of motion in my knee. I’ve got good balance. I’m feeling really good. In fact, the team at Nanticoke Outpatient Therapy, where I’m doing my physical therapy, told me that I must have had a good fit for my knee because I had a good range of motion at my first visit. They didn’t know I had the Mako surgery before they told me that.”

Two weeks after surgery, when asked about pain, Frank said he still has a little pain right after a physical therapy work out, but he said “it’s more of a toothache type pain – not a sharp pain. It’s very manageable.” Frank is continuing physical therapy to build strength in the knee. He is walking and getting back to his daily routine at home.

“Frank has done exceptionally well and he isn’t the only one. All of my patients who have been treated using the Mako Robotic-Arm are doing well,” said Dr. William Doran, Nanticoke Orthopedic Surgeon. “I am excited to see how this tool changes the lives of individuals in this community.”

Though it may be a few more weeks before Dr. Doran releases him for work, Frank and his wife Mariellen are looking forward to what is next. They came to Seaford because of a transfer with DuPont. Now their family has grown to include five children and fifteen grandchildren. He has children living in Lewes, Arnold, Columbia and Eldersburg. His oldest grandchild graduated from the University of Maryland.

“We spend a lot of time with our family,” said Mariellen. “Some are close and some we have to drive to see, but we are always going to one activity or another to support the grandchildren. It will be great to have Frank back to himself, free from the pain and able to enjoy the family. Maybe another big family vacation will be possible soon, like the one we took at Deep Creek. We enjoy those when we can get everyone together.”

Frank has had a long and successful career, working first with DuPont, then American Mirrex, and then the Maryland University system including oversight of projects at UM College Park, UM Eastern Shore and Salisbury University. But, at 77 years young, he isn’t ready to quit. He is anxious to get back to work. “I feel great. I’m just waiting for Dr. Doran to give me the all clear so I can get back on the job. I’m ready to go.”

Nanticoke is the first and only hospital on the Delmarva Peninsula to offer this new technology. Several surgeons including Dr. William Doran and Dr. David Eakin are certified to perform knee replacement using the Mako Robotic Arm-Assisted technology. For more information, visit www.nanticoke.org/Mako.


Nanticoke Health Services includes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, the Nanticoke Physician Network and the Nanticoke Health Foundation. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital was the first hospital on Delmarva to receive a 4-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is the only hospital in Delaware and Maryland to be nationally recognized by Healthgrades with both the Outstanding Patient Experience Award™ and the Patient Safety Excellence Award™. Nanticoke holds a Level III Trauma Center certification, is nationally certified by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center, and is a Gold Plus Award performer according to the American Heart/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® program. Nanticoke’s Cancer Care Services holds Accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and is a member of the Association of Community Cancer Centers. Nanticoke’s medical staff includes over 180 health care providers practicing in 38 different specialties including the 60 providers employed within the Nanticoke Physician Network.