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Next Generation Knee Implants results in faster recovery

When his painful left knee altered not only his lifestyle but his appearance, David Hoffman decided he’d had enough. “I couldn’t walk more than half a mile without pain,” he said. “And it was not just pain, I was bow-legged.” He hadn’t played tennis in years. And golf was getting tougher, too.

So the Hoffman, of Travelers Rest, South Carolina, decided it was time to see an orthopedic surgeon who suggested a partial knee replacement, similar to the one recently performed on former President George W. Bush.

And now the 67-year-old retired financial officer is doing so well.

Bush, who is also 67, had his surgery at Rush University Medical Center’s Midwest Orthopaedics in Chicago and was able to get up and walk around and navigate stairs just hours after the outpatient procedure, according to USA TODAY.

Hoffman was, too.

“I could bend my knee right away,” he said. “And I was walking about and doing what I wanted to do quite quickly.”

As the world ages, worn-out joints are a fact of life for many. But people want to maintain an active lifestyle as long as possible, too. So many turn to a knee replacement, most are done to relieve the pain from osteoarthritis caused by aging or injury.

New generation

Partial knee replacements aren’t new. But the latest generation of the implants offers less pain, faster recovery and better range of motion

“We are currently using the updated third-generation of the (Oxford) implant, which provides additional surgical options and streamlined surgical technique,” he said. “We have had fantastic clinical results with this implant.”

Partial knee replacements have actually been around longer than total knees, but the early models didn’t perform very well, Burnikel said. With changes in design over the years, the results have been comparable, he said.

The main advantage to a partial knee is that the hospital stay and recovery are shorter, and often done on an outpatient basis, he said. The partial knee also tends to feel less mechanical, and has better range of motion, he said.

The risk of complications, such as infection or developing blood clots, is lower too, he said.

The components of a partial knee are made of the same metal and plastic materials as the total knee, but are just about a third the size, he said. But the surgery requires a smaller incision and patients can get back to their activities quicker, with about a 40 percent reduction in recovery time, he said.

“With a total knee, it’s going to take 12 weeks to feel like you’re back to your full activities,” he said. “With a partial, it’s more like eight weeks. There’s a certain time it takes for the tissue to heal no matter how you do it. It’s a complex joint.”

The right patients But partials can’t be done on everyone. And those who have partials risk needing a total knee eventually because there is still a chance the rest of the joint will wear out, Burnikel said.

“You have to be fairly selective in who you do partial replacements on based on the pathology of the joint,” he said, noting that about 15 percent of his patients qualify for partials. “They are very successful in the right patients. If you do it in the wrong patients, the results are not as good.”

Typically, he said, it’s for patients with osteoarthritis — not rheumatoid arthritis — that is confined to one section of the joint or for people whose knee caps are rubbing on bone.

It’s also a good choice for people who are really active — like Bush — who want to do more aggressive activities, like hiking, running and tennis, because they get better function with more of their natural knee, he said.

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