Our knees take a lot of abuse over time. Normal wear and tear, injuries, and arthritis can take a toll on the cartilage between the bones in our knees.
As this cartilage deteriorates, it can cause severe pain and stiffness, inhibit range of motion, and affect our overall quality of life. Thankfully, medical, surgical, and technological advances have made knee surgery safer and more effective than ever before.
If nonsurgical treatment options have proven unsuccessful or are no longer working, you may want to talk to your doctor about having knee surgery. Let’s discuss the latest technological advances available for knee surgery.
1. Advances in Imaging
Because of advances in imaging technology, surgeons are now able to take more detailed and more fully dimensional X-ray images of the knee before surgery in order to completely evaluate it. This evaluation includes an X-ray to measure the overall alignment of your entire leg as part of the precise surgical planning process. Occasionally, other advanced imaging technology such as a CT scan or MRI are used if more complex issues are present.
2. Advances in Knee Implants
In the past, knee replacements were mostly one-size-fits-all. However, implants have become more sophisticated and customizable. Your surgeon can match you with an implant that is specifically designed to fit your knee size and shape. By recreating the precise anatomy of your knee, this can lead to a better surgical outcome and quality of life after surgery.
3. Advances in Pain Management
Advances in surgical techniques allow surgeons to create smaller incisions, but more importantly it helps to preserve muscles and tendons around the knee. This can mean less blood loss during surgery and less pain during the recovery process.
Anesthesiologists now have specialized nerve blocks that they can use during surgery, and this can last for several days after surgery to help with pain control. In addition, joint replacement surgery is performed with spinal anesthesia, which is typically better and safer than general anesthesia, and helps with the recovery process and pain control after surgery.
Other advances in pain management can allow for a reduced usage of morphine, which is known to have negative side effects. This includes medications given both before and after surgery to reduce swelling and inflammation, minimize muscle and nerve pain, and prevent nausea or vomiting. Due to these advances, the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery are a much more comfortable time, allowing early focus on physical therapy and the recovery process.
4. Advances in Surgical Procedures
In the past, there were only a couple of options available when it came to knee surgery. However, surgeons can now offer various options for surgery, including the following:
Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement
Minimally invasive techniques can now be used for both partial and total knee replacement surgery. These minimally invasive techniques can help preserve muscles, decrease postoperative pain, and improve overall recovery. Plus, newer customizable implants can make knee replacement surgery more successful than ever.
During this minimally invasive procedure, a tiny surgical telescope and instruments are inserted through two tiny poke holes into the affected knee joint, which gives a clear view of the knee in order to repair it. Arthroscopic surgery typically involves less pain, less stiffness, and a shorter recovery time than with other traditional open surgeries.
MAKOplasty Robotic-Assisted Knee Replacement
This new robotic-assisted technology provides a personalized surgical experience for each patient. A 3-D model of your knee is used to develop a pre-operative plan. During surgery, your surgeon is assisted by robotic guidance. This special system helps optimize the accuracy of your joint replacement.
Outpatient Knee Replacement
Thanks to minimally invasive surgical techniques and improved pain management protocols, knee replacement surgery can now routinely be performed as an outpatient procedure in young and healthy individuals, allowing them to safely return home on the same day as their procedure was performed.
Revision Knee Replacement
If you’ve had knee surgery in the past and are experiencing complications, surgeons now have more options on how to correct and reconstruct your knee using special implants to compensate for bone and tissue that may have been damaged over time.
Orthopedic Surgeon in the Triangle
Board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brett Gilbert specializes in minimally invasive, muscle-sparing knee replacements, plus a wide range of these other treatment options for knee arthritis.