With Americans living longer and weighing more than they used to, there has been a significant increase of severe degenerative arthritis in this country. When the cartilage, or cushion, of the knee is worn down to bone, most Orthopaedic surgeons will recommend total knee replacement (TKR) only. This recommendation is made even though more often than not, only one of the 3 compartments of the knee is affected. That means that the other 2 compartments, despite being healthy, are resurfaced with metal and plastic. However, total knee replacement is not your only choice.
Though upwards of 95% of knee replacements performed in the United States are total knee replacement procedures, that procedure has its drawbacks. Some studies have demonstrated that a total knee replacement has a patient dissatisfaction rate of almost 20%. Furthermore, total knee replacement does exactly what its name suggests – it completely replaces the surface of the knee. In order to do that, a surgeon must remove ligaments (usually the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and/or the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)). And, regardless of whether the problem exists in only one part of your knee, a total knee procedure essentially sacrifices the functioning part of your knee to address the problem area.
A total knee replacement is a final procedure. Once it is completed, the only option a patient has is to have a revision if necessary. As Bob Eberle, the Director of Clinical Affairs at Maxx Orthopedics points out, "Knee replacements are becoming more common among younger patients. As a result, they expect the procedure to last." But, this is not always the case and sometimes a second operation must be performed if the patient has had the total knee replacement early in life. At that point, a replacement of the replacement is the only option.
As a patient, it is important to be sure that you pursue the right course of treatment. While you should not discount the recommendations or suggestions of a surgeon, it is perfectly acceptable to ask questions. It is also a good idea to perform your own research to ensure that you are exhausting all options. To that end, understanding your surgical options regarding knee replacement means knowing that other options exist.
One such option is minimally invasive partial knee resurfacing (MIPKR). This procedure, only performed approximately 3% of the time in the United States, is used by surgeons in Europe in 8 to 10% of cases. The MIPKR is an underutilized procedure that can greatly increase a patient's quality of life and enable them to continue doing things that a total knee replacement does not.
MIPKR is a viable alternative for some groups of patients – particularly those dealing with unicompartmental arthritis. MIPKR is also an excellent choice for patients younger than 60. Gerry Savage, the Vice President of Sales for Maxx Orthopedics, explains the benefits of the procedure, "It is a minimally invasive resurfacing procedure with minimal bone loss. Because of the minimal bone loss, patients retain full function of their knee and keep their ligaments." This means that an individual can continue remaining active and taking part in activities that they enjoy.
Patients who have a partial knee replacement also have options down the road. If the knee continues to cause issues and additional surgeries are needed, the MIPKR makes those procedures easier since more natural bone and ligament remain. This means that younger patients can ensure that they retain natural knee function as long as possible.
To learn more about MIPKR, its benefits, and whether the procedure is right for you, contact Dr. Redish's office at 423-493-5220 or visit his website at partialkneedoc.com.