Every year, about 300,000 total knee replacement surgeries are performed in the United States, and that number is expected to rise to 457,000 in the next two decades, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
A total knee replacement surgery gives a patient who has diseased or damaged knee cartilage and bone a knee implant made of synthetic materials. The procedure is usually recommended for patients who suffer severe knee pain and disability after rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or trauma have damaged their knee cartilage.
Just as the alignment of your vehicle affects the wear and tear on your tires, having proper alignment of a knee replacement with the hip joint affects the smooth movement and long-term wear of a knee implant. Navigation technology helps orthopedic surgeons align the knee implant more accurately and is rapidly expanding the options for knee replacement surgery.
East Jefferson General Hospital orthopedic surgeon Dr. Chad Millet uses the new Stryker Navigation System for his knee replacement surgeries. "This system helps with accurate implant alignment and proper ligament balancing, which are both crucial for artificial knee joint stability, durability and sufficient range of motion," he says.
The system uses an infrared camera and instruments and unique tracking software to continually monitor the position and alignment of the implant components. Specialized wireless "trackers" are attached to the knee and send movement data to the computer, which then analyzes and displays the information on a computer monitor. The 3-D images give the surgeon a more complete understanding of the joint mechanics before he cuts any bone.
"This information allows me to make adjustments to within a fraction of a degree to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient," Millet says.
Not only does the Stryker system improve outcomes, it also is easy to use. The instruments are designed for maximum comfort for the surgeon using them, and the software adapts to each surgeon's technique. Research indicates the system may lead to shorter hospital stays and fewer post-operative complications, which means patients can return to their normal activities sooner.
"The older generation of navigation systems required drilling markers into the bone outside of the incision, which did leave small scars," Millet says. "With the Stryker system, the markers are placed inside the incision leading to even less scaring."