Wednesday, March 17, 2010

15 Years After ACL Knee Reconstruction, 84% of Male Patients Still Highly Active


Eighty-four percent of males who had ACL knee (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction with a patellar tendon (the tendon that attaches the knee to the front of the tibia or shin bone) graft continue at a high level of activity 15 years later, according to a study presented today at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s Specialty Day in New Orleans, Louisiana (March 13). Additionally, these patients have not developed severe osteoarthritis and their knees remain stable.

“We have done this procedure for many years and this study looks at patients as far back as 17 years,” said Leo Pinczewski, MD, corresponding author and consultant surgeon at the North Sydney Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Centre, Wollstonecraft, Australia. “The results of this technique, which was new almost 20 years ago, were excellent at five years, outstanding at 10 years and still very, very good at 15 years. Patients went back to sport quickly, had an easy rehabilitation with no brace and were frequently walking straight away.”

The goal of ACL knee surgery is to stabilize the knee with a short rehabilitation letting patients get back to an active lifestyle. Long-term, the surgery aims to prevent additional damage to the knee and minimize osteoarthritis.

But Dr. Pinczewski’s success with the procedure almost didn’t occur, he noted. In 1989, Dr. Pinczewski had gone to a medical seminar to hear Tom Rosenberg, MD, of Salt Lake City, Utah, who had pioneered a surgery to arthroscopically reconstruct the ACL using the patellar tendon. Previously, this knee surgery had been an “open” (not minimally invasive) procedure with a long rehabilitation and a high incidence of osteoarthritis. All he was able to obtain was the procedure summary from literature left at the lecture.

“So, I worked out how to do it from the abstract,” said Dr. Pinczewski. “Little did I know that I got it wrong, according to Dr. Rosenberg’s method. But, in fact, it proved to be fortuitous. The way I performed the surgery was to drill the hole into the femoral bone before drilling into the tibia. Dr. Rosenberg’s technique drilled into the tibia first. It turned out you can get the graft into a better position and a more stable knee if you drill in that order. I didn’t know I had it ‘wrong’ until after I’d performed hundreds of successful operations.”

In the study, 90 patients (46 men and 44 women between 15-42 years) had endoscopic ACL knee surgery performed by Dr. Pinczewski. After 15 years, 82 patients (88%) were examined and documented. In evaluating knee function (limp, locking, instability, pain, swelling and trouble climbing stairs), the patients had a median score of 95 (in a range of 39-100). Rating the function of their knee on a scale of 0 – 10, with 10 being normal, excellent function and 0 being inability to perform daily activities, patients reported their knee function at an average of 9.5 after 15 years.

As for sports participation, 84 percent of males and 45 percent of females were participating in very strenuous activities such as soccer and basketball or in strenuous activities such as skiing or tennis. 24 percent of patients participated in moderate activities such as running or jogging and14 percent participated in light activities such as walking 15 years after surgery. However, 89 percent of patients had no signs of osteoarthritis at 15 years after the surgery. The study did note a concern for increased kneeling pain in patients due to the donor site for the patellar tendon graft that needed further scrutiny.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A sporting chance for active total knee replacement patients


Study finds implant durability not affected by high-impact sports participation

Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) patients may be able to participate in high-impact sports without increasing risk of early implant failure, according to a new study presented today at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). In addition, the authors observed better clinical scores in the group of patients who participated in activities discouraged by the Knee Society (KS) than those of the control group.

The Knee Society recommends TKA patients avoid activities that cause high stress loads on the implant and may increase the risk of early failure. Such activities include high-impact aerobics, football, soccer, baseball, basketball, jogging and power lifting, among others.

"Recent studies have shown that as many as one in six total knee replacement patients participate in non-recommended activities," said Sebastian Parratte, M.D., PhD, an orthopaedic surgeon from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and the Aix-Marseille University, Center for Arthritis Surgery, Hospital Sainte-Marguerite in Marseille, France. "This study offers some reassurance to those patients who choose to return to an active lifestyle after surgery."

Researchers evaluated outcomes of 218 patients between the ages of 18 and 90 who underwent primary knee arthroplasty at the Mayo Clinic and reported performing heavy manual labor or practicing a non-recommended sport following surgery. The "sport group" was matched by age, gender and BMI to a control group of 317 patients who underwent the same procedure using an identical implant and followed recommended activity guidelines.

Clinical and radiologic results were measured using Knee Society (KS) scores and implant survivorship was evaluated using multivariate analysis according to the Cox model.

At an average follow-up of seven-and-a-half years after surgery, the study found:

No significant radiological differences and no significant differences in implant durability could be demonstrated between the sport group and the control group;
The sport group showed slightly higher KS Knee and function scores compared to the control group;
The control group experienced a 20 percent higher revision rate for mechanical failure (loosening, wear or fracture) compared to the sport group;
After accounting for all variables, including co-morbidities, the sport group had a 10 percent higher risk of mechanical failure compared to the control group.
These results were quite surprising to Dr. Parratte and his team.

"We hypothesized that high-impact activities would not increase the risk of implant failure, but we did not foresee that such activities might actually improve clinical results," he said. "It is clear that more research is necessary to evaluate the short and long-term effect of high-impact activities on the durability and function of modern TKA implants."

He added that, although the industry is not ready or able at this point to revise its recommendations, that possibility may exist in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, he noted that surgeons and patients should continue to follow all industry recommendations relating to recovery following joint replacement surgery.


Learn more.

About Joint Replacement

Joint replacement, also known as arthroplasty, is considered by many to be one of the most successful medical innovations of the 20th century. Total joint replacement is a surgical procedure in which the patient's natural joint is replaced with an artificial one, made of a combination of plastic, metal, and/or ceramic.

The most common reasons for this surgery are pain and stiffness that limits normal activities such as walking and bending and that cannot be satisfactorily treated with medications or other therapies. Therefore, joint replacement surgery often provides a significantly improved quality of life to patients who would otherwise have to live with severe pain.

In 2007, there were 550,161 total knee replacements performed in the United States, and that number is on the rise—particularly as the Baby Boomer population continues to age. Because of this trend, it is important to optimize patient outcomes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Patient and doctor expectations from joint replacement surgeries not always aligned

Physicians should implement measures to align expectations

While physicians strive to set realistic expectations for patients undergoing knee and hip joint replacements, a new study reveals that doctor and patient expectations are sometimes not aligned. The study, reported by Hospital for Special Surgery researchers at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons held March 9-13 in New Orleans (poster P140), suggests that steps need to be taken to bridge the expectation gap.

This study is among the first to examine discrepancies in patient and physician expectation with joint replacement surgeries, according to Hassan Ghomrawi, Ph.D., MPH, outcomes research scientist, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York, who led the study.

The two joint replacement surgeries studied are known technically as total hip replacement (THR) and total knee replacement (TKR). These procedures are common in individuals over 50 and usually result from normal wear and tear that causes osteoarthritis. At Hospital for Special Surgery alone, nearly 4,000 THRs and 4,000 TKRs are performed each year.

At HSS, patients are required to attend a 90 minute class before surgery where they receive education from a specialized nurse about what they can expect during the surgery and recovery. "A leader in offering such classes, HSS has been giving a preoperative class for many years. This practice is becoming a trend in big hospitals for this type of surgery," Dr. Ghomrawi said. The results from this study indicate that such classes could be refined and steps can be taken to use these classes to improve patient and physician dialogue.

In a study that compared expectations of 42 patients with their doctors through surveys, investigators found clinically meaningful disagreement in 68 percent of patients with 53 percent of the patients' expectations exceeding the expectations of the surgeons.

"The take home message for the surgeon is that inexpensive, educational interventions like a preoperative class can be used to better align the patient's and the surgeon's expectations prior to surgery," said Alejandro Gonzalez Della Valle, M.D., associate attending orthopaedic surgeon at HSS, who was involved with the study. "This may ultimately result in higher perceived outcome."

"If a patient has unrealistic expectations that are not properly trimmed preoperatively or achieved after surgery, the patient will most likely be dissatisfied with some aspects of the final result. Conversely, if the patient has low expectations for function after surgery, it is likely that he or she will not enthusiastically engage in the different phases of the postoperative recovery including physically therapy. That patient will probably have a lower than expected functional result.

"For the patient, the take home message is that it is paramount to discuss the expectations for pain relief and function with the surgeon and in the class before undergoing a total joint replacement to make sure that the expectations of the physician and the patient are similar," said Dr. Gonzalez Della Valle.

The study included patients who were scheduled to receive a hip or knee replacement by a dedicated hip and knee surgeon. Both patient and doctor completed either a THR or TKR recovery expectation questionnaire. The surveys involved various questions with a scale from 1 to 5, ranging from a 1 being "return to normal," to a 4 being "very little improvement," and 5 being "I don't have this expectation."

The hip joint replacement survey had 18 questions involving improvement in psychological well-being, pain relief, ability to walk, ability to stand, getting rid of a limp, getting rid of a cane, ability to go up and down stairs, ability to raise from the sitting position, and improvement in social activities that range from working at a job or doing housework to recreation including the participation in sports. Other questions evaluated the mobility of an individual's hip such as whether a person could cut their own toenails.

The knee joint replacement survey had 19 questions involving improvement in psychological well-being, pain relief, ability to walk different distances, getting rid of a cane, going up and down stairs, kneeling, squatting, using transportation, the ability to be employed, and the ability to participate in recreation, social activities, sports, and sexual activity.

The numbers from each of the questions on the survey were then plugged into a formula that calculated a score ranging from 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest expectation. The study involved 25 patients undergoing THR and 17 patients undergoing TKR. Both patients and doctors completed surveys. The average surgeon expectation score was 75 (range 43 to 93) and the average patient expectation score was 84 (range 47 to 100).

"We observed a lot of variability between what the surgeon expected and what the patient expected. In an ideal world, the expectations of the patient and the surgeon should be similar," Dr. Gonzalez Della Valle said.

Based on results from this pilot study, the National Institutes of Health has awarded Dr. Ghomrawi a five-year career development award. "The hope is to be able to study the relationship between expectation discordance and several outcomes down the road, including rehabilitation outcomes at discharge, and six month and two-year follow-up functional outcomes," Dr. Ghomrawi said. "We are trying to see which items of discordance are clinically meaningful. And then we want to use all this information to improve the doctorpatient dialogue as well as to reassess the class content, so that expectations are aligned."

"The larger study will be more complex. We will try to analyze the discrepancies that different doctors may have for the same patient and that different doctors have between themselves when assessing the same patient," Dr. Gonzalez Della Valle said. "What are the physician factors and patient factors that can predict higher or lower expectations? The goal of THR and TKR surgeries is to provide durable pain relief and improvement of function so that patients can go back to an enjoyable, productive life. We want to make patients satisfied. We know that hip and knee replacement operations are very successful. But we are trying to go a step further, looking at the psychology of the patient recovery."