If you suffer from knee or hip osteoarthritis, also called wear-and-tear arthritis, at what point should you seriously consider having joint replacement surgery? According to a BCH orthopedic surgeon, the best time is sooner rather than later.

“Osteoarthritis is a progressive and degenerative disease that worsens over time. Studies show that patients who choose surgery early on tend to achieve higher levels of improved function and reduced pain,” orthopedic surgeon C. Brian Blackwood, MD, of the BoulderCentre for Orthopedics explained during a free health lecture held on Wednesday, Nov. 14, in Lafayette, Colo.

“Once conservative treatment options start to become less effective, waiting is not worth it, especially when the technology for successful pain relief is already available. Joint replacement surgery can mean a big improvement in quality of life,” he added.

Another reason not to wait: hip and knee replacement surgeries have a high success rate.

“As technique, technology and materials have improved, so has the procedures’ success rates. More than 90 percent of people who now undergo knee or hip replacement surgery experience significantly less pain after the procedure,” Dr. Blackwood said.

Options for Excellent Pain Relief Now Available

Partial and Total Knee Replacement
If you have early to mid-stage osteoarthritis in the knee, and the damage is isolated to just one compartment of the joint, a partial knee replacement may be an option for you.

“During the procedure we replace only the worn-out portion of the joint with an artificial implant, leaving the rest of the joint alone, which helps to spare healthy bone and ligaments surrounding it,” Dr. Blackwood explained.

More advanced arthritis often requires the more advanced surgical option of total knee replacement.

“The procedure involves replacing all three compartments of the knee. The end surface of the femur and tibia are replaced with a metal implant and the patella is resurfaced with a plastic implant,” Dr. Blackwood stated.

Hip Replacement: Anterior Approach for a Quicker Recovery
Dr. Blackwood then went into details about the technique he often uses for hip replacement, called direct anterior hip replacement. In this approach, the surgeon accesses the hip joint by making a 4- or 5-inch incision at the front of the hip, near the groin.

“This offers the surgeon good access to the hip without detaching any muscles or tendons,” Dr. Blackwood said. “The benefits of this minimally invasive technique are the potential for less pain, a smaller incision, shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery with fewer precautions following surgery.”

One Mako System for Three Types of Procedures
Dr. Blackwood described how BCH's computer-assisted Mako robotic-arm technology has dramatically improved hip and knee replacements by allowing for the highly accurate positioning and alignment of joint implants.

At BCH, surgeons use Mako technology for three types of surgery: partial knee resurfacing, total knee replacement and total hip replacement.

Dr. Blackwood explained, “The process starts with a CT scan of your joint, which is used to generate a 3D virtual model of your unique anatomy. This model is loaded into the Mako system software and used to create a personalized pre-operative plan for positioning your new hip or knee components.”

In the operating room, your surgeon follows the personalized surgical plan for positioning the implant. The Mako system guides your surgeon within the pre-defined operative area and helps prevent him from moving outside the planned boundaries. This allows for the highly accurate placement and alignment of your implant.

“The Mako procedure also is a less invasive surgery with multiple benefits, including a shorter recovery time and more natural feeling knee,” Dr. Blackwood added.

BCH’s Foothills Hospital was the first facility in Colorado to offer Mako Total Knee Replacement.
using a state-of-the-art robotic arm and computer-guided mapping software.

C. Brian Blackwood, MD, has successfully treated more than 3,000 patients with hip and knee problems and has performed over 1,000 robotic-assisted surgeries. He was the first surgeon in Colorado to offer Mako total knee replacement. Appointments are available by calling the BoulderCentre for Orthopedics at (303) 449-2730.

View PowerPoint slides from Dr. Blackwood’s lecture on "Innovative Treatments for Painful Hips and Knees."

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