Minimally invasive knee surgery is a procedure performed to repair damage caused by arthritis to the knee joint. In comparison to traditional total knee replacement, minimally invasive surgical techniques reduce the size of the incision required for knee replacement or knee repair, and allow patients to heal at a much faster rate during a shorter post-operative recovery period. The surgery’s minimized incision also leaves patients with a less noticeable scar.
Knee arthritis causes patients significant pain and leads to a loss in mobility, resulting in an inability to perform routine tasks. Patients may find everyday activities involving the knees, such as raking the leaves, walking, or gardening, extremely painful and difficult. Swelling and inflammation often occur, causing joint stiffness and limited range of motion. As patients attempt to run or put the knee through a normal range of motion, extreme joint pain will arise, making any joint motion very difficult.
Non-Operative (Conservative) Solutions
Knee arthritis can be treated in a number of different ways, including conservative treatments and knee replacement surgery. Conservative approaches are always preferred, as their noninvasive manner allows the knee joint to heal independently, and does not damage any of the surrounding muscle or tissue. These measures include medications, injections and physical therapy.
Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement
Surgical solutions to treat knee arthritis involve replacing the surfaces of the knee joint with an implant made of metal and a high-tech plastic called polyethylene. The entire knee is not removed, but rather the surfaces are replaced, much like a cap on a tooth. The result is a prosthetic knee joint that imitates the function and feel of a natural knee, and effectively alleviates the patient’s knee pain. Patients seeking surgical treatment have multiple solutions for knee replacement, including total knee replacement and partial knee replacement.
Minimally invasive total knee replacement is performed through a smaller incision, usually less than 6 inches, compared to traditional knee replacement, which requires an incision of 8-10 inches or more. Because the procedure requires a smaller incision, patients are left with a better-looking scar, and typically require a shorter hospital stay. Dr. Harwin uses a “plastic surgery” closure so there are no sutures or staples to remove.
Partial knee replacement is an option for younger patients whose arthritis is confined to one compartment. Partial knee replacement replaces only the damaged compartment and does not replace any structures that are normal.
Knee arthroscopy is a surgical solution that provides minimally invasive benefits. Knee arthroscopy is best used for conditions, including a torn meniscus, and for repair of ligaments, such as in ACL surgery. Arthroscopic surgery can provide a temporary solution to the pain and stiffness of an arthritic joint.
At the Center for Reconstructive Joint Surgery, Dr. Harwin focuses on the treatment of arthritis by joint reconstruction and hip and knee replacement. To treat sports injuries, Dr. Harwin will refer the patient to his associate, a sports medicine and arthroscopy specialist to properly evaluate and treat the injury.
In order to make a diagnosis of knee arthritis, it is best to see an orthopaedic surgeon who can provide the knowledge and skill to accurate assess the joint. Dr. Harwin is one of the leading knee specialists in New York City, and has received a number of honors. Dr. Harwin's accolades include US News & World Report’s ‘Top Doctor’ distinction, recognition as a ‘New York Super Doctor’, a ‘Best Doctor’ by Castle Connelly, and ‘Top Surgeon in America’ by the Consumers’ Research Council of America. Additionally, the Best Doctors® Organization, a group founded by professors affiliated with Harvard Medical School, included Dr. Harwin in their list of ‘Best Doctors in America’, an unbiased and well-respected list of specialists and outstanding primary care physicians. As part of their program, Dr. Harwin performs consultations for patients all over the world.
By Dr. Steven Harwin