Personalized Replacement Joints: How Surgery Is Changing For the Better

Customization may lead to better results for patients

Close up of knee shoulder and hip prosthesis

Contributor: Robert Molloy, MD

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Rising expectations of today’s patients is spurring innovation in total knee replacements.

The number of total knee replacements performed annually in the United States doubled annually from 1999 to 2008. It is projected to rise by 600 percent by 2030.

Total knee replacements have risen 30 percent in the past five years at Cleveland Clinic alone. This is because of patients who are young but still extremely active, as well as the aging generation of baby boomers.

RELATED: 5 Joint Replacement Myths That May Be Keeping You in Pain

Patients prompt improvements

Patients have rising expectations and are demanding more from total knee replacements and joint replacements than in previous years. This has generated improvements in the field, including design, delivery and execution.

These advances have led to beneficial advances in patient care – for example, creating customized parts identical to each patient’s specific anatomy. This allows surgeons to perform more efficiently and accurately.

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For example, a recent technological focus developed at Cleveland Clinic is patient-specific positioning guides. These custom-made guides match each patient’s anatomy, potentially allowing the surgeon to perform total knee replacements more efficiently and accurately, which helps improve quality and outcomes.

RELATED: Advances Make Hip, Knee Replacements Last Longer

Benefits of patient-specific care

Patient-specific care offers several benefits. These may include reduced time in the operating room, decreased blood loss, decreased infection rates and improved outcomes with alignment.

This new technology takes the navigation aspect out of the procedure. Customization may lead to better results for patients and a more structured plan for surgeons in the operating room. In addition, it allows surgeons to perform the surgery more easily with more complicated cases.

The major goal of joint reconstruction is to reduce pain and restore function. Many investigations have supported the attitude that alignment is a critical factor in achieving these goals. Although traditional techniques aid in placement, studies have shown that there clearly is room for improvement.

Patients today demand a health care system that pursues the best technology and improved clinical outcomes and enhances efficiency. Patient instrumentation has the potential to achieve all these goals.

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If you plan to receive a total knee replacements or joint replacement, take your health into your own hands and ask your doctor about patient-specific care – and what he or she is doing to make the surgery personalized for you.

Trevor Murray, MD, contributed to this post.

More information
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Knee joint pain guide

This post is based on one of a series of articles produced by U.S. News & World Report in association with the medical experts at Cleveland Clinic.

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