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Dr. Blackwood on Joint Replacement Trends: Younger Patients, Faster Recovery

  • Category: General, Orthopedics
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  • Written By: Boulder Community Health
Dr. Blackwood on Joint Replacement Trends: Younger Patients, Faster Recovery

More than 32.5 million U.S. adults suffer from painful and debilitating osteoarthritis, also called wear-and-tear arthritis. When osteoarthritis strikes the hip or knee, the pain can become so unbearable that it can make walking difficult, threatening to end an active lifestyle.

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for middle-aged sufferers to accept a sedentary life when the pain set in. But according to BCH orthopedic surgeon C. Brian Blackwood, MD — a fellowship-trained hip and knee replacement specialist and recognized expert in robotic-arm assisted joint replacement — we now see a new generation of middle-aged patients who have much higher expectations.

“Many, especially those 45 to 64 years old, refuse to suffer through the aches and pains that affect their quality of life. They are unwilling to sacrifice an active lifestyle,” Dr. Blackwood explained during a free online health lecture. "As a result, I see a steady stream of middle-aged people seeking joint replacement surgery after non-surgical options fail to provide any relief."

Another trend: 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,” stated Dr. Blackwood.


Watch Innovative Treatments for Painful Hips and Knees


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 or two compartments 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.

Anterior Approach for Hip Replacement Offers Potential for a Quicker Recovery

An estimated 1 in 4 people will develop hip osteoarthritis. Currently, more than 450,000 sufferers undergo total hip replacement surgery annually.

Dr. Blackwood went into details about the technique he often uses for hip replacement surgery, called 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.”

Robotics for Increased Precision

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 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.

Click here to view/download a PDF of slides from Dr. Blackwood’s lecture on "Innovative Treatments for Painful Hips and Knees."

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