In His Own Words

First Patient Receives New Robotic-Assisted Knee Replacement

FHN Orthopaedic Specialist Excited about Precision and Accuracy of Innovative VELYS™ Technology

Kimball Sturtevant gets into his truck with new confidence – and without pain – after receiving a knee replacement at FHN. He was the first patient to receive the procedure using the VELYS™ Robotic-Assisted Solution.


When FHN orthopaedic surgeon Greg Dammann, MD, asked Kimball Sturtevant if he was fine with having FHN’s first VELYS robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery, his patient’s response was enthusiastic: “Sure! I am all for this modern technology improving our lives!”

Years of farming and truck driving had left Kimball’s legs worse for the wear. “Climbing silos and grain bins, working on balers, and general farm work wore my knees out,” he explains, “and then driving truck took its toll.” His first knee replacement with Dr. Dammann, on his “clutch” leg, was a success several years ago.

This time, it was for his right leg, the one used for the gas pedal and braking. “The doc predicted I would be back for the second one, and he was right. I had a lot of pain on the inside of my knee, and I was noticing it every day. I couldn’t even get comfortable just sitting in my chair. It was time.”


Dr. Dammann is thrilled to be the first in the area to offer patients this sophisticated new option. “I am always looking for ways to use technology to improve patient outcomes, and the VELYS™ Robotic-Assisted Solution is going to provide that progress,” he explains. “It gives me real-time information up front – detailed data on six different parameters that help balance the knee. So, I end up doing less soft tissue dissection and more personalization for each individual patient’s unique anatomy. Since every knee is different, the end result really is a customized knee!”

Specialized training and job shadowing helped Dr. Dammann master the new technology, which built on the programs he had used in the past. He says, “I already had experience with computer navigation, and this robotic approach is the next step in improved outcomes, enhancing accuracy and precision. I consider it a very state-of-the-art assistant! I am confident the real-time data the system provides will result in faster healing, less time in physical therapy, and decreased need for pain medications – all wins for our patients.”


As for Kimball, he went to physical therapy one week after surgery and was pleased to learn he needed fewer sessions than originally planned. “I have already seen lots of improvement,” exclaims Kimball, “and my therapist, Deeann Heinrich, really gets the job done. She is so thorough and caring. My pain has been minimal and I am more flexible than they expected I would be, so my PT has been reduced from three times a week to two times a week. I consider that pretty amazing progress. I feel like R2-D2 was on the job!”

Of course, many things about FHN’s orthopaedic procedure process remain the same, including help from nurse navigator Keri Wall. “That Keri is a huge asset,” stresses Kimball. “She is worth her weight in gold. She made the whole experience so much easier. The hospital staff was excellent, too, and Dr. Dammann, well, I think he is the best ortho guy in the area. FHN’s orthopaedic team is a well-oiled machine, and as an old farmer, I can say that.”