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To Your Health: There’s even an app for knee surgery

Dr. KevLuke is co-medical director Bone Joint Institute Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Dr. Kevin Luke is co-medical director of the Bone and Joint Institute at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

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Updated: February 24, 2013 6:21AM



Great fashion is all about the perfect fit. The “one-size-fits-all” option is never a good idea. As it turns out, the same goes for knee replacements.

Women account for more than 60 percent of the 600,000 total knee replacements each year in the United States.

In the past few years, the manufacturers of knee prostheses have realized that women are having knees replaced in greater numbers, so they have been creating implants that fit women better.

Since most women are smaller in stature than men, a “one-size-fits-all” implant doesn’t fit a woman as well. The newer gender-fit knee implants are scaled to fit women’s bodies better. Any woman who is looking at a knee replacement should make sure her prosthesis is specifically designed for women.

During knee replacement surgery for both sexes, a perfect fit is about more than just the implant. The bottom of the femur (the thigh bone) and the top of the tibia (the shin bone) must be cut away in a precise manner to allow for placement of the prosthetic knee.

The newest device to assist in this step is a regular iPod Touch or iPhone loaded with a special app which is then attached to the patient’s leg during surgery.

With the DASH app, GPS technology allows the surgeon to track and map the patient’s anatomy at the surgical site and use that anatomical calculation to make precise, accurate cuts.

Dr. George Branovacki, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center was the first surgeon in North America to use this technology since it was approved by the FDA last year.

Ideally, the goal is to get the implant within one degree of perfect accuracy.

Traditional instruments are usually only within three degrees of accurate, which may lead to instability over the years. However, this new technology measures within one-half of a degree, so the implant fits much better.

We already are clearly seeing better outcomes for knee-replacement patients, both in terms of post-operative alignment, better range and reduced pain.

Dr. Kevin Luke is co-medical director of the Bone and Joint Institute at Advocate Christ Medical Center. Dr. George Branovacki is orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center.



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