New Knees in One Day

February 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A revolutionary knee replacement procedure is getting patients back on their feet in just one day. It combines computer assisted technology with the latest surgical techniques to reduce operating time for the surgeon, which speeds recovery for the patient.Retired insurance agent, Leon Costello stays active in the Coarsegold community where he lives with his wife, Linda. They share a passion for glass-working. But last summer, Leon felt his knee was as fragile as his glass creations. He said, "It almost felt like there's going to be so much pain, you'll fall down."

Leon's diagnosis was osteoarthritis, so advanced his doctor told him there was bone on bone. The solution was a total knee replacement but Leon was worried about extensive recovery time.

He and Linda have a goal of visiting every Presidential Library and when Leon is home, he spends time with friends, making their own wine.

Leon described the wine and said, "The wine's called The Oaks for the trees it's made by the ROMEOS ... Retired Old Men Enjoying Opportunities."

Leon took a life-changing opportunity to undergo the latest technique in knee replacement.

Dr. David Taylor, at Sierra Pacific Orthopedic and Spine Center in North Fresno has performed the complicated surgery since 1973.

The procedure has greatly advanced since then. Surgical techniques, borrowed from other industries have made knee replacement better and faster.

From construction to car manufacturing computer assisted technology has been used to make the things we use everyday and now it can help re-build bodies.

The newest knee replacement process starts well before the doctor and patient even enter the operating room to create a customized design that fits the patient, perfectly. It's called the "Signature" knee and much like someone's handwriting, it's unique to that person.

The process starts with an MRI. The 3-D imaging is used to create a model of the knee implant. The surgeon then takes the model into the OR to guide the operation.

Biomet Orthopedics animation showed how the customized guide directs the surgeon exactly where to make cuts and to what degree so the knee implant can fit precisely in the patient.

Dr. Taylor said, "I think this technology has made me a better surgeon. If we have less blood loss and a quicker operating time that translates to the patient feeling stronger and getting better faster."

So fast, Leon was able to stand on his new knee, the day after surgery. Leon said, "All of that pain is gone." But Leon says he was also willing to do the work to get his knee back in action. He said, "The surgeon is wonderful but the physical therapy is the complete answer, as far as I'm concerned. If you don't do the physical therapy, you'd better not have the surgery done at all."

Now Leon is enjoying his many hobbies with Linda by his side, every painless step of the way.

Dr. Taylor said the "Signature Knee" technology reduces surgery time by as much as half an hour, leaded to less blood loss during the operation and less recovery time for the patient. The procedure is covered by most insurance.