You are wheeled out of surgery and given a device to help you control your post surgical knee replacement pain. You used the same hospital, insurance, Dr and device for the first knee replacement.  Should you take the device this time?

No…unless you want a bill for 15K

Check out the stories by an LA Times reporter

First article

Second article

Together the stories explain how one patient was being asked to pay 15K for a cryotherapy device to reduce post-surgical swelling and knee replacement pain. He received the device “free” when the first knee was done about 4 years ago. This time around the company Maldonado Medical, was not accepting the few thousand dollars that his Anthem Blue cross insurance plan had paid toward the cost of renting the device. So he was being billed for the remaining charges owed.

Miracle Machine

The device is called  TEC Thermoelectric Cooling System and is marketed  by Maldonado Medical, LLC Their Tag line is “Building The Bridge Between Patient and Rehabilitation” Maybe that could be changed to “Burning The Bridge Between Patient and Rehabilitation” or even  “Building The Bridge Between Financial sanity and the Poorhouse” Want to know what the wonder machine looks like, so you can spot it when that sling it in your lap on the way out the door of the hospital?

I thought you did!

If the lettering is hard to read check out the website

The Chevy

An alternative found on Amazon costs a tad bit less.

The Ferraris

Maldonado claims his machine is a Ferraris and that all his competitors are “archaic” chevys. I think what he means is that he’ll be able to drive 3 Ferraris after his company gets done bilking insurances and consumers for an over-engineered cold pack.

I don’t think anyone in their right mind would part with 15K if notified upfront and informed of the minimal advantage of using the Maldonado Miracle machine to alleviate their post surgical knee replacement pain…if there is an advantage at all.

No Advantage

Aetna doesn’t believe there is any benefit. In fact standard cold packs and ice bags will do just as good to help you manage your knee replacement pain thorugh out your recovery. Here is their statement from a policy sheet revised as of 05/20/14 . 

Aetna considers the use of the Hot/Ice Machine and similar devices (e.g., the Hot/Ice Thermal Blanket, the Kinex ThermoComp Device, the TEC Thermoelectric Cooling System (an iceless cold compression device), the VascuTherm2, the VitalWear Cold/Hot Wrap, and the VitalWrap) experimental and investigational for reducing pain and swelling after surgery or injury.  Studies in the published literature have been poorly designed and have failed to show that the Hot/Ice Machine offers any benefit over standard cryotherapy with ice bags/packs; and there are no studies evaluating its use as a heat source.

Notice there are other systems named as well. Write the names down and make sure you don’t get an over-engineered icepack and the bill of a lifetime. I guarantee that the bill will cause your post surgical knee replacement pain to go through the roof.

Read More about how to reduce post-surgical knee replacement pain 

See also more about Brian Williams’ pain after a knee replacement 


Michelle, PT
Michelle, PT

Michelle Stiles called "the no nonsense" therapist, by her patients, created a company called Cowboy Up Recovery after recognizing the bankruptcy of the present medical model. Too many people regard conventional medical wisdom as gospel, ignoring the subversive influences of Big Pharma and Big Medicine. She believes, Americans in general are being trained from an early age to defer to experts in numerous areas of life and losing the impulses for self-responsibility and self-reliance in the process. Over-diagnosis and over-medicating has become endemic. While thankful for the best miracles of modern medicine, she encourages people of all persuasions to listen to their bodies and seek out answers to maintain not just an absence of disease but optimal health. Her advice is: Cowboy Up, no one cares more about your health than you do.

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