More options available in knee replacement surgeries

Reported by Bob Townsend – bio |email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - More than 400,000 people worldwide undergo knee replacements each year.  Over 90 percent of patients who have had the surgery experience an improvement in knee pain and function shortly after the procedure is complete.

I can tell you first hand that I found relief from the surgery.  Three years ago I found myself in an operating room at Cape Fear Hospital after suffering pain caused by worn out knees.

On the morning of December 28, 2007, I underwent bi lateral replacement surgery, another way of describing total replacement of both knees.  The surgery was successful, and after three weeks of physical therapy, I was back at work.  I found pain relief  and regained mobility I had lost before.

Knee replacement surgery is performed to replace the cartilage of the knee with metal and plastic.

It has long been used to treat severe arthritis in elderly patients, however concerns arise when a patient in his 40s or 50s has severe knee arthritis that is not relieved with conservative treatments.

So once reserved for elderly patients, total knee replacement surgery is becoming more common in the younger, active population.

Doctor Joanne Nottingham, a professor at UNC-Wilmington has recently undergone bi-lateral replacement of both knees.

"I was getting a pain shot every six months which was suppose to give me six months of pain free time," said Doctor Joanne Nottingham.  "But after the shot, the time that was pain free was getting shorter and shorter, and I finally said we have to do something."

Joint replacement surgeries have more than doubled at Cape Fear Hospital in the past decade.  The orthopedic program at NHRMC has been ranked in the nation's top ten percent for three years in a row.

While the traditional knee replacement procedure is used by many of our surgeons, Wilmington Health Associates has started a new orthopedic facility and their surgeon uses a replacement surgery that involves 3-D images, to custom match the replacement to where it will attach to the bones.

Doctors say this procedure results in less time for the patient to be under anesthesia, less blood loss, a lower risk of infection, a reduction in soft tissue and muscle damage, and finally, less pain for the patient, all of which may reduce recovery time.

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