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,”
C. Brian Blackwood, MD, of the BoulderCentre for Orthopedics explained during a free health lecture
held on Wednesday, June 19, in Boulder.
“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
“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
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 joint,”
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.
PowerPoint slides from Dr. Blackwood’s lecture on "Innovative Treatments for
Painful Hips and Knees."
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