Indianapolis surgeon taps iPod in precise knee replacement procedure at St. Francis Health

Surgery is first of its kind in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS - They're made for music and games, but an Indianapolis surgeon is using an iPod touch to perform a precise, state-of-the-art surgery.

Dr. Tim Williams, an orthopedic surgeon with St. Francis Health, on Tuesday became the first in the state to perform a total knee replacement using special software on an iPod touch.

The high-tech tool, along with software developed by Brainlab, makes calculations in milliseconds, sending a 3-D image to the surgeon.

"Anytime that we put in a knee replacement or a hip replacement, we want to make sure that they're well-aligned," Williams said. "The purpose of that is that will give the patient better outcomes and, in the long run, the knee or hip will last longer."

Williams is the first in Indiana, and among the first nationally, to tap into the new technology, which he can hold in the palm of his hand.

"It's amazing. The first navigation systems are fairly bulky and involve large computers and really have to be left in one room," he said. "This is very, very portable. It can be taken from room to room, or even hospital to hospital quite easily."

Patient Lee Couch, of Indianapolis, who has suffered for 12 years with pain, said she can't wait to try out her new knee.

"I think it's great," she said. "I just want to get back where I can walk and get to the gym."

Williams said the healing time of the operation is about the same as a conventional procedure, but the iPod option is much cheaper than other imaging and navigation tools for knee and hip replacements.

Surgeons in Indianapolis expect to do hundreds of the iPod procedures each year.

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