CommunityHealth Fix


Total Knee Replacement: Advances in technology

Posted at 7:11 AM, Sep 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-17 11:18:01-04

Before a patient decides to undergo any type of surgical procedure, it is critical that all questions are answered and risk factors addressed. A total knee replacement is an important decision to make, but if the patient is a good candidate, this type of treatment option can greatly improve pain, mobility, and quality of life. It is important to note that not everyone is a good candidate for a total knee replacement. The simplest way to determine your status is to speak with your doctor.

What is knee replacement?
When patients have arthritis and the surfaces of the knee have lost cartilage, physicians resurface the ends of the bone using metal and plastic. This allows the joint to glide without catching, locking and pain.

Have there been any new advances in knee replacement?
Patients often ask if there is new technology. In the last five to ten years the techniques have changed. New materials and longer lasting plastics are used. All knee replacements are metal and plastic still, but the plastics are constructed to decrease the amount of wear.

Knee replacement techniques have become less invasive and more dependent on computer technology recently. Former techniques included the surgeon placing a rod up the femur and based on where the rod sat in the femur, the first cut was made. The challenge with the rod is that it displaced the marrow in the bone, and interrupted the veins and arteries in the femur. It was also not as accurate because the femur bone is not a straight bone. It’s bowed.

An example of a new knee replacement option is that of a Switzerland company that makes 3D models of the knee prior to surgery based on a CT scan made of the knee. A computer then designs custom cutting blocks that fit only a specific patient. It is accurate and can be a less painful procedure.

If your knee replacement is placed accurately, it will last longer. Similar to a car tire, perfect alignment will make the care tire last longer. Additionally, the procedure itself is only 30-40 minutes. In the past five years over 600 knee replacements using 3D computer technology have been completed with positive results.