Recent advances in techniques and materials used in joint replacement surgery, combined with Columbia St. Mary’s continuum of care in orthopaedics, are contributing to excellent outcomes for people who need joint replacements.
The science of joint reconstruction has come a long way in the last five years. Three factors are contributing to advances in joint replacement surgeries today. There’s a lot of enthusiasm as these areas come together over the new few years to improve patient outcomes.
Advances in use today at Columbia St. Mary’s include:
1. Smaller incisions for hip and knee replacement surgeries. Today, we’re able to make smaller incisions to implant artificial hip and knee joints. Using shorter incisions provides many benefits including less damage to tissues, less pain, a more cosmetic incision, and faster recovery and rehabilitation.
2. Improved accuracy aligning new joints. Newer technology such as surgical navigation allows surgeons to better determine where incisions and hip and knee joints need to be placed. Surgical navigation technology uses three-dimensional computer guidance and sensors placed over a patient’s bones during surgery, allowing more precise joint reconstruction with less direct visualization.
The sensors transmit pictures to the computer and allow the surgeon to “see” the patient’s joint during surgery to more accurately determine the best placement of the joint implant. The position of bones and surgical instruments are displayed in real time during surgery. In the future, new software should enhance visualization even more, hopefully making it a routine element of joint replacement surgery.
3. Alternative joint materials. Advances in joint materials and the engineering of joint parts have produced artificial joints that reduce wear, the amount of loose joint particles, and rubbing within the joint. Newer joint materials include metal-on-metal joints, ceramic-on-ceramic joints and cross-linked polyethylene bearings. Laboratory testing shows these joints wear 100 to 200 times longer than traditional joint bearings.
Another important component of successful joint replacement surgery is patient education. Columbia St. Mary’s conducts Joint Camp to help patients to prepare for their joint replacement experience. Joint Camp is a comprehensive, patient-focused program for people undergoing total hip or knee replacement surgery. The program includes everything from the preadmission process to what to expect during and after surgery. Joint Camp has been shown to improve patient recovery and decrease hospitalization time.
For more information on orthopaedic surgery and Joint Camp, visit www.columbia-stmarys.org.