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Patient Stories


Engineer chooses robot-assisted knee replacement surgery

“I’m a full believer in technology,” says Howard Mickley, 70, of Arlington Heights. With a background in engineering, Mickley turned to science and research when he knew it was time for a knee replacement.

When arthritis began to make both knees painful, he pursued injections and continued this course of treatment for several years. However, he started to see diminishing returns from the injections. “I was a jogger for a while to maintain weight and health. But recently, I couldn’t walk around the block or walk up and down the stairs without pain,” he explains. “I knew it was just a matter of time before I had to have surgery.”

Research is key

So, he took to the internet to research knee replacement procedures and techniques. Along the way, he discovered robot-assisted knee replacement and liked what he read. “I had previously undergone prostate cancer surgery during which my surgeon used a robotic technique and I was pleasantly surprised with my outcome,” Mickley explains. “I reached a point in my research that someone would have to convince me not to have robot-assisted knee surgery.”

Mickley, with a goal to always have three data points when making any decison, visited three knee replacement surgeons. The third was Dr. Vasili Karas, whom he chose based upon a comment from a neighbor who underwent MAKO robot-assisted knee surgery and called it a ‘night and day difference’ from an earlier, traditional knee replacement surgery. During these physician visits, Mickley also learned that because his arthritis was limited to only a portion of his knee joints, he was a candidate for a partial knee replacement. Typically, a partial knee replacement means a shorter recovery and less pain than with a total knee replacement.

The right patient-surgeon fit

Mickley liked Dr. Karas right away and appreciated his experience in the MAKO partial knee replacement procedure. They discussed doing his left knee first and exactly how the procedure works. Briefly, the MAKO partial knee builds a 3D model of the patient’s anatomy prior to surgery with the use of a CT scan. The key components of the surgery are performed virtually prior to ever picking up a scalpel. Then, the patients individual ligaments are balanced using the robot in surgery. Finally, the bone in the knee is shaved down in the exact spots needed to place the partial knee replacement for the individual knee mechanics of the patient. They also discussed expected outcomes and any concerns Mickley had about undergoing surgery during the pandemic. Dr. Karas reassured him of the extreme safety protocols in use at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush and all surgery locations. “Patients often ask what the whther they should wait for “the next best thing” to be discovered prior to having their knee replaced. The use of technology such as robotics to achieve optimal results on an individual patient basis is this paradigm shift in our profession.”

Enjoying today

Today, two months following surgery, Mickley is regularly walking up to three miles and doesn’t need any pain medication. He is able to kneel on the floor to play with his granddaughter and uses a rowing machine at home for indoor workouts. Physical therapy is helping him regain his strength and mobility.

Pain is starting to creep up in his right knee and Mickley is confident he has just the right treatment plan and physician to help him when it’s time for another knee surgery.

If travel was permitted I’m READY to do the Spanish Stairs again or have another wonderful trip with my family.


If you would like to discuss your knee pain, MAKO robot-assisted surgery, or partial knee replacement options with Dr. Vasili Karas, call 312-432-2598 or visit to schedule an appointment.




Beverly Country Club member after hip replacement: “It’s a miracle.”

For David Steadman, Age 71 and a 32-year member of the historic Beverly Country Club, playing for the first time at the recently restored club this spring was supposed to be a round to rememeber. 

He will indeed remember that round, but for a different reason. Hip pain and a limp limited him to just nine holes and a dependency on his cart. "I had to pull the golf cart closer to me just to manage," he explains. " I felt like I couldn't walk 10 steps."

Steadman, like many golfers and adults over 50, suffered from Osteoarthritis of the hip which cases pain due to the deterioration of cushioning between his hip joint's "ball and socket". 

" I retired last October and was looking forward to using the 50 rounds I had purchased in advancaed at a course in Florida," he said. " But pain overtook the pleasure of golf for me."


Time for a total hip replacement

Steadman decided enough was enough and sought advice from joint replacement speaclist Dr. Vasili Karas at Midwest Orthopedics at Rush. Upon a close exam of Steadman and after viewing imagined of his hip joint, Dr. Karas recommened a total joint replacement as soon as Steadman was ready. 

" Half of my friends have had a knee or hip replaced so I knew this was the way to go," Steadman says. 

Steadman underwent the surgery at Rush University Medical Center, which lasted about one hour, on a Friday and was surprised to be back home the following day. He was able to walk upstairs to go to bed that night and didn't need the walker he had purcharsed before the surgery. Sixteen days post-surgery he was outside bending and kneeling to work on his home's sprinkler system - and walking around the block.

Getting back to golf

" Every day I feel better," he said. It's really a miracle how fast I returned to feeling-pain free and normal." The best part he says, is that he is off pain medication which had become a part of his life. Today he only takes Tylenol as needed.

" Golfing has been a great thing for me in life," he said. "I'm really glad I got this done so I can get back to having fun again."

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