Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
During the Procedure
During minimally invasive knee surgery, the person lies on his or her back. With this type of surgery, the instruments used are specially designed by the implant companies to allow for small incisions. Also, the implants that are used may be slightly different, although no less durable, than the implants that are used to replace a diseased knee with a standard knee replacement procedure.
Computer navigation is an important advancement that may contribute to the overall safety and effectiveness of any knee replacement procedure. It improves the surgeon's ability to place the prosthetic parts accurately. For nearly all knee replacements, the surgeon must place metal rods inside the hollow parts of the major bones close to the knee joint (the femur and the tibia). Placement of these metal rods helps the surgeon measure the alignment of the knee and position the implants accurately. However, the risks of this procedure include disruption of the bone marrow, bleeding, and an increased possibility of blood clots.
Computer navigation helps the surgeon consistently align and position the parts without invading the cavities of any of the long bones around the knee joint. This technology, which is expensive and available only at select medical centers, represents the future of knee replacement surgery. Small markers are placed at vital anatomical points on the leg, and the computer-based system can read the positions of these markers, compute the optimal alignment, and customize it for each patient. Ultimately, all knee replacements will likely be performed using some type of software-driven navigation.
B Sonny Bal, MD
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