Medical Moment: More precise total knee replacements

Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 5:47 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(WNDU) - Each year, more than 800,000 people undergo knee replacement surgery in the U.S.

90 percent of all knee replacements last 10 years, and 80 percent last 20 years. Robotic surgery has become standard procedure.

Now, a new technique is giving surgeons a way to be even more precise, helping patients heal better.

Orthopedic surgeon Jeffrey DeClaire was one of the first to perform a total knee replacement. And now, he is one of the first to use a navigation software that not only makes sure the new knee is in the exact right spot, but the ligaments are as well.

“The BalanceBot is a method to measure ligament tension throughout the full range of motion on the inner half of the knee and the outer half of the knee,” Dr. DeClaire explained.

Traditionally, surgeons used their own experience and standard guidelines to position the ligaments around the implant.

“It didn’t include the tension or the balance of ligaments,” Dr. DeClaire continued.

Now, BalanceBot is removing the guesswork from the equation. The system creates a 3D model in real-time of the patient’s movement. After surgeons open the knee, two paddles on the BalanceBot are inserted, recording range of motion. The software then proposed an initial implant based on the anatomy of each individual patient. The software can predict how much of the ligament should be saved to optimize balance and joint stability.

“Literally being able to balance the ligaments within a half a millimeter and to achieve rotational position within a half a degree,” Dr. DeClaire marveled.

Minimally invasive quadriceps-sparing total knee replacement is a new surgical technique that allows surgeons to insert knee replacement implants through a shorter incision using a surgical approach.

This technique avoids trauma to the quadriceps muscle, which is the most important muscle group around the knee. Surgeons make an incision that is typically only 3 to 4 inches in length and the recovery time is much quicker – often permitting patients to walk with a cane within a couple of weeks of surgery or even earlier.

The less-traumatic nature of the surgical approach also may decrease post-operative pain and diminish the need for rehab and therapy compared to more traditional approaches.