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Don't Be So Fast to Knock Knee Surgery

July 22, 2002|JANE E. ALLEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Doctors performed 299,000 total knee replacements in 2000, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. A 1998 study in the British edition of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that after 10 years, 90% of these procedures are successful. When only a single knee compartment is affected, doctors may perform a unicompartmental knee replacement. Recuperation can take three to six months. About 30,000 are done annually.

Knee fusion: Also called arthrodesis, this rarely performed operation is sometimes recommended when a knee replacement may fail. It fuses the femur bone to the tibial bone, resulting in a completely stiff knee.

Discosupplementation: A relatively new therapy, involving injections of lubricant to replace knee fluid that has become less slippery because of arthritis. Although the injected hyaluronic acid eventually breaks down, some patients report years of relief, Moseley said.

Unispacer: The most recently developed knee procedure, it involves making a single incision and sliding a metal disk between the bones of the leg. Although FDA-approved, the procedure has been performed 900 times to date by the 350 orthopedic surgeons who have undergone training by the manufacturer. Said Dorr: "It may be the next easy solution for arthritis in the knee, like arthroscopy was, but there's no good data yet that say it's going to work."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday July 26, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 6 inches; 235 words Type of Material: Correction
Knee treatment--In a knee surgery story that appeared in Monday's Health section, one of the options for treating osteoarthritis was incorrectly spelled. The therapy that involves injecting hyaluronic acid into the knee is called viscosupplementation.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday July 29, 2002 Home Edition Health Part S Page 3 Features Desk 1 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Knee treatment--In a knee surgery story that appeared in last Monday's Health section, one of the options for treating osteoarthritis was incorrectly spelled. The therapy that involves injecting hyaluronic acid into the knee is called viscosupplementation.

Looking ahead, Moseley said several treatments for a pre-arthritic condition called chondromalacia may turn out to be appropriate for osteoarthritis of the knee.

These include transplanting cartilage from one area of the knee to another, or in more complicated cases, harvesting a small amount of cartilage, sending it to a lab where it can be grown, and then re-implanting it into the knee.

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