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Surgeons Using Cutting Edge Technology to Cut the Margin of Error on Knee Replacements

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The number of Americans needing knee replacements is going up. Right now, about 600,000 surgeries are peformed every year. By 2030, that number is projected to go as high as 4,000,000. Cutting edge technology is being used at Baptist Health that is cutting out the room for error.

Orthopedic surgeon David Wassell says the biggest challenge in doing a knee replacement is making sure the implants fit.

"The biggest issue is that when you make the bone cuts, and you put these implants in, they've gotta go in correctly. So, the real challenge to myself in other orthopedic surgeons is how to do the knee replacement as perfectly as possible every time, and be able to repeat it every time so that when those implants go on, they go on correctly and the knee is going to function properly," said Dr. Wassell.

 If it doesn't fit properly, Dr. Wassell says it can lead to excess wear, and even early failure, which would mean the patient would need another knee replacement. That's why surgeons at Ortho Arkansas are putting to use computer technology that uses an MRI image to fit the patient's knee.

"It basically gives the patient a custom fit. Somewhat like taking a custom fit suit that's been taylored to you versus something that's off the rack," said Dr. Wassell.

It also saves on health care costs, because it cuts down on operating time

Wassell explains, "For what I've found for myself, it's been cutting down anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes of operative time which in the grand scheme of things adds up to real dollars and cents."