Archive Orthopedic Surgery 2016

Up and Running With Uni Knees

Adding partial replacements is a great way to launch an outpatient joint program.

Kendal Gapinski

Kendal Gapinski, Contributing Editor

BIO

joint replacement TEAM EFFORT Nurses and techs with joint replacement experience help ensure procedures go as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Interested in starting a joint arthroplasty program, but aren't sure where to begin? You might want to first consider unicompartmental knee replacements, which are less invasive than total knees and often performed on younger, healthier patients. Plus, replacing only the diseased portion of the knee is now easier than ever thanks to patient-specific implants, improved instrumentation and robot-assisted navigation. In fact, adding partial knees could be the perfect way to test the outpatient joint replacement waters without getting in over your head.

Docs who do partial knees
To add unicompartmental knee procedures, you'll need to start with finding the right surgeons for the job. That can be tough, because most residency programs don't teach partial replacements and not many surgeons currently perform them.

"Surgeons aren't typically exposed to the required techniques," says Craig J. Della Valle, MD, a joint replacement specialist at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush and a professor of orthopedic surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "And while some surgeons believe in the idea of partial knee replacements, others think you should just go ahead and replace the entire joint."

The procedure is minimally invasive, which makes it a good fit for a variety of patients, says Dr. Della Valle, but they must meet a few requirements. Specifically, patients should have arthritis in only one compartment of the knee and their posterior cruciate ligament must be intact. Patients should also be relatively healthy with few to no comorbidities and a BMI in a healthy range.

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