A New Twist on Knee Replacement

Thousands of people undergo knee replacement surgery every year, and most are pretty successful. But technology is making them even better.

The Ci System lets surgeons create a three-dimensional image of the bones they'll be working with. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brett Wallace says it allows him to accurately reproduce the anatomy so he can plan his cuts, guided by the information given by the computer, within one millimeter or within one-degree of variance.

The Ci System guides the surgeon through a series of probe placements. Receiver eyes pick up signals from receptors on the probes, then translates them into a model of the patient's knee joint. Traditionally, doctors have had to make larger cuts, pulling away muscle and tissue, to get a look at the area.

Dr. Wallace says the computer can take much of that over by regenerating the information on a computer screen without a surgeon directly visualizing - or exposing - every part of the bone. The advantage of that for the patient is less blood loss from smaller cuts and potentially faster recovery.

The created image also includes a line showing the ideal position for the replacement joint. In that way, the computer can help guide it in. The surgeon can simply look at the screen and see how far away he or she may or may not be from the ideal position.

If the new joint isn't in the best place, it could wear out more quickly. Dr. Wallace says repeat knee replacements aren't as successful because the initial surgery usually alters the knee and causes some scarring and stiffness.

Stormont-Vail's had the Ci System for six months, trying it in select case, and will soon use it more widely. It's the first in Kansas to have the system. It adds about ten minutes to the surgery, and also adds several hundred dollars to the cost, which insurance may or may not cover.

For more information on the Ci System, go to www.jnj.com/innovations/new_features/ci_system.htm;jsessionid=SZ3LW2ZOCDO12CQPCCFSZOYKB2IIQNSC.

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