Tag Archives: knee

What to Expect After a Meniscectomy

Injury knee painDr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total knee arthroplasty, total hip arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more.

When it comes to meniscal injuries, many patients have little knowledge about the types of treatment options available and their outcomes.  The meniscus, a significant cushion or shock absorber in your knee, is a c-shaped disc of soft cartilage that sits between the femur and the tibia.  When the knee meniscus tears, the cushioning effect diminishes and can cause knee pain and arthritis, eventually requiring treatment. One option is a meniscectomy, a surgical removal of all or part of a torn knee meniscus. A survey conducted by Brophy et al of 253 patients evaluated for meniscal pathology found 62 percent rated their knowledge of the meniscus as “little or none,” and another 28 percent had no idea that meniscectomy procedure–and not a meniscal repair–is the most common surgical treatment for surgical repair. Did you know that?

Since many meniscal tears can require surgical intervention, there’s a clear need to educate patients on options and postoperative considerations: overall outcomes, the risk of needing a subsequent surgery, the ability to return to sport (RTS), the postoperative risk of developing osteoarthritis (OA), the risk of progression to total knee arthroscopy (TKA). Meniscus tear can also affect knee stability, particularly when combined with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. A group of doctors at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora reviewed the current literature on postoperative considerations to help orthopedic surgeons educate their patients on post-meniscectomy expectations.

The review found:

  • Successful return to sport after meniscus surgery was more likely with these circumstances: patients of a younger age, medial meniscectomy and a smaller meniscal resection. The amount of meniscus resected is a function of the size of the tear. All these factors affect the time until patients are able to return to sport.
  • Failure rates after meniscectomy are low when compared to meniscal repair and discoid saucerization procedures. Meniscus repair is done rarely for a large tear, most often in conjunction with ACL reconstruction. The majority of the meniscus has no blood supply and will not heal, so the majority of meniscus surgery involves removing the torn tissue and smoothing the remaining meniscus. Failure rates are increased in patients undergoing lateral meniscectomy.
  • Improved clinical outcomes for non-obese males can be expected in those undergoing medial meniscectomy with minimal meniscal resection. Conversely, if a preexisting angular deformity exists, varus or valgus, which results in an imbalanced load across the knee, the success rate is less predictable. Preexisting degenerative knee changes (damage to the articular cartilage attached to the bones), and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) deficiency will negatively impact outcomes following a meniscectomy.
  • The risk of developing post-surgical osteoarthritis over the next 10-20 years should be discussed. Meniscectomy increases the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis, particularly in obese females who undergo a large meniscal resection. The development of arthritis after meniscectomy may lead to the need for knee replacement. However, leaving a mobile large meniscus tear clicking around in the knee will more likely result in early arthritis.
  • Meniscectomy is a viable and successful intervention for pain relief and functional improvement for symptomatic meniscal tears, but nonsurgical care should be used first in older patients with preexisting degenerative changes. These patients will likely end up with knee replacement, and an arthroscopic meniscectomy may be an unnecessary step along that path.

If you would like to learn more about meniscal injuries or understand post-surgical outcomes related to meniscectomy, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Should There Be Strict BMI Cutoffs for TKA and THA?

happy senior couple hiking on the mountainDr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total knee arthroplasty, total hip arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more.

Recently we posted a blog about candidacy for and outcomes of Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA) and Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA) in morbidly obese patients who underwent pre-operative weight loss. Operating on obese patients for TKA and THA continues to be a hot button topic of risk versus reward in surgical outcomes.

Two well-respected orthopedic authorities, recently faced off to have a deeper conversation about whether or not orthopedic surgeons should have strict BMI cutoffs for performing primary TKA or THA. Benjamin F. Ricciardi, MD engaged Thomas K. Fehring, MD, from OrthoCarolina and Nicholas Giori, MD and PhD, a Stanford University professor, to face off. Highlights are summarized below.

Q: To what degree does the evidence support a strict BMI cutoff to determine eligibility for primary TKA and THA?

Dr. Fehring noted many Americans (35%) are obese and the association between patients with a BMI above 40 and surgical complications/infection is irrefutable. He recommends looking at big data such as Medicare or Veterans Affairs, meta-analysis, and position statements by specialty medical societies. All findings to date underscore the need to have a strict cutoff, but Dr. Fehring noted it’s important to develop weight loss strategies for patients prior to arthroplasty. 

Dr. Giori agreed that obesity is undeniably related to complications, but BMI is a weak risk factor compared to others that are commonly accepted (such as heart and metabolic disorders).

Q: Given the expansion of strict BMI cutoffs at the administrative level, how should safety (non-maleficence) be balanced against access to care?

Dr. Giori said that while BMI cutoffs are well-intended, the ones currently used have the effect of arbitrarily rationing care without medical justification. Also, he feels it disproportionately affects minorities, women and patients in low socio-economic classes. In his opinion, the decision should be based on joint decision making between the doctor and the patient. Risk adjustments in payment models (for doctors’ compensation) would help in the future.

Dr. Fehring agreed with many of the points, but at a certain point the risk outweighs the benefit, and attempting to operate on all patients regardless of BMI becomes dangerous. Keeping his “do no harm” obligation in mind, Dr. Fehring stated a BMI cutoff of 40 as a reasonable goal for patient safety.

Q: If a patient with morbid obesity is to undergo arthroplasty, what steps should be taken before surgery to make hip or knee arthroplasty safer?

Dr. Fehring recommended the patient be in the best possible health they can be prior to elective surgery to avoid complications. An optimization program, factoring in body weight, blood glucose control, serum albumin, and smoking status are part of his clinic’s protocol; patients get tools to meet and stick to set goals before getting surgery. It’s not just about treating the knee or hip; it’s about treating the whole patient as well, he said.

Dr. Giori recognized that optimization programs can help and his clinic also offers one, but the best that can be done regarding obesity is encouragement and education, and referring the patient to a structured weight-reduction program. On the flipside, the patient should do his or her best to lose weight to get below a given BMI threshold. From there, doctor and patient can create a shared decision-making plan that may or may not involve surgery.

If you’d like to discuss weight concerns prior to your total knee or hip replacement surgery, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Can Weight Loss Before Total Knee Arthroplasty Help?

Senior man having medical exam.When obese patients undergo total knee arthroplasty (TKA), many surgeons require or request preoperative weight loss. A group of researchers sought to determine the amount of weight loss needed in this patient population, to improve TKA operative time, length of stay, discharge to a rehab facility, and functional improvement after surgery. This is the first known study to look exclusively at obese patients to understand how preoperative weight loss might improve knee surgical outcomes after TKA.

Those considered morbidly obese have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. This study looked at 203 patients with a BMI of 40 or more. They were evaluated 90 days before their TKA, and again immediately preceding TKA, to assess weight loss. Of those who lost weight preoperatively, 41% had lost five or more pounds, 29% lost 10 or more pounds, and 14% lost 20 or more pounds.

Losing 10 or less pounds before surgery made no difference in operative time, length of stay, the need for discharge to a rehab facility, or post-operative functional improvement. However, the preoperative loss of 20 pounds or more showed benefits: It lowered the odds of discharge to a rehab facility, and was associated with a shortened length of stay. There were, however, no significant differences in surgery times or functional improvements for those who lost 20-plus pounds.

A longer stay in the hospital or discharge to a rehab facility is a driver of higher costs in primary total knee arthroplasty. Preoperative weight loss may reduce overall costs. The need for Discharge to a rehab facility is also correlated with an increased rate of post-operative infection. In the future, this study could help surgeons target a specific level of weight loss prior to TKA, for their patients to improve knee surgical outcomes.

If you’d like to discuss obesity or weight concerns prior to your total knee arthroplasty, or just want to learn more about the knee replacement procedure, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total and partial knee arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more.

After One Joint Wears Out, Will More Go?

Hip, back and spinal problems in young ages.Here’s a question I’m often asked by patients: “If one of my joints has worn out, how likely are the others to go?” A recent publication from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) lends some insights into this question. The study, found in the Aug. 12, 2019 issue of Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, is the first of its kind. The likelihood of undergoing a 2nd Arthroplasty (Joint replacement) after hip or knee replacement had not previously been evaluated.

The authors prospectively asked two questions: “What is the likelihood of second Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA) or Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA) after primary TKA or THA?” and “What risk factors are associated with undergoing addition joint replacement. The study identified 332 patients who underwent primary TKA and another 132 who underwent THA across five OAI-participating centers in the U.S., who hadn’t previously had a THA or TKA. The patients were followed for 8 years after their primary joint replacement.

  • The incidence of contralateral (opposite Knee) TKA after primary TKA was 40%
  • The incidence of THA after any TKA was 13%
  • The incidence of contralateral (opposite) THA after primary THA was 8%
  • The incidence of any TKA after primary THA was 32%

As for the second question in the study: Risk factors for undergoing contralateral TKA were younger age and a loss of medial joint space with a varus angulation, or bow leg deformity.

The conclusion is clear: Patients who underwent TKA or THA for osteoarthritis had a relatively high rate of subsequent joint arthroplasty. There’s no question that osteoarthritis is common and debilitating, and often it affects more than one large, weight-bearing joint.

If you need a joint replacement or want to learn more about the procedure, hip or knee replacement surgical outcomes, recovery and quality-of-life prognosis, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle. Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is a knee and hip expert specializing in joint replacement surgery.

Less Pain, Less Opioid Use After Total Knee Arthroplasty

Senior man on his mountain bike outdoorsDr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is a knee expert specializing in new knee surgery procedures, total knee replacementsports medicine, and more.

Managing postsurgical pain after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is critical to successful surgical outcomes including patient recovery, rehabilitation and overall satisfaction. Local infiltration analgesia (LIA) with anesthetic agents is shown to improve pain and reduce morphine consumption. It also shortens the length of hospital stays compared with using peripheral nerve blocks, which can hinder mobility. A randomized control PILLAR study conducted by Michael A. Mont, M.D., Walter B. Beaver, M.D., Stanley H. Dysart, M.D., John W. Barrington, M.D., and Daniel J. Gaizo, M.D. took a closer look at the efficacy of LIA with Liposomal Bupivacaine (LB) in improving patient pain scores and reducing opioid use after TKA.

Here, the study team compared the effects of LIA with or without LB on pain scores, opioid consumption including opioid-free patients, time to first opioid rescue, and safety after primary unilateral total knee arthroplasty.

The study involved 140 TKA patients randomized to LIA with LB to 266mg/20mL (admixed with bupivacaine HCI %0.5, 20mL) or LIA with Bupivacaine HCI %0.5, 20mL. Standardized infiltration techniques and standardized multimodal pain protocol were used. Co-primary efficacy endpoints were the area under the curve (AUC) visual analog scale pain intensity scores 12-48 hours post-surgery, and total opioid consumption 0-48 hours post-surgery.

Findings were notable. AUC 12-48 post-surgical visual analog pain intensity scores were 180.8 with LB, and 209.3 without the use of LB. Total opioid consumption 0-48 hours post-surgery was 18.7mg with and 84.9 without LB. Significant differences favoring LB were observed for the percentage of opioid-free patients (p<.01) and time to first opioid rescue (P=.0230).  In the TKA setting, LIA with LB administered with optimal techniques significantly improved post-surgical pain, opioid use and time to first opioid rescue, with more opioid free patients and no unexpected safety concerns.

My past TKA patients will tell you the SwiftPath protocols I utilize are well aligned to this study. With a reduction in (or no) opioids after TKA, less post-operative pain and overall patient satisfaction, the use of LIA with LB is well-supported.

If you are a total knee arthroplasty candidate and want to learn more about treatments such as LIA with LB, please contact our office. We’ll help you return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Can Activity Trackers Assist with Recovery After Knee or Hip Arthroplasty?

activitytrackerCommercial wrist-worn activity monitors, like those by Fitbit, the Apple Watch or Garmin, have the potential to accurately assess activity levels and have been gaining popularity in the last few years. In a 2018 study published in The Journal of Arthroplasty, researchers set out to determine if feedback from activity monitors can improve activity levels after total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty.

To conduct this study, 163 people undergoing primary total knee arthroplasty or total hip arthroplasty were randomized into two groups. Subjects in the study received an activity tracker with the step display obscured two weeks before surgery and completed patient-reported outcome measures. On the day after surgery, participants were randomized into either the “feedback group” or the “no feedback group”. The feedback group was able to view their daily step count and was given a daily step goal. Those in the no feedback group wore the device with the display obscured for two weeks after surgery and did not receive a formal step goal, but were also able to see their daily step count after those two weeks were up.

Average steps taken by both groups were monitored at one, two, and six weeks, and again at six months. At six months after surgery, subjects repeated their patient-reported outcome measures.

It turns out that the feedback group subjects had a significantly higher average daily step count by 43% in week one, 33% in week two, 21% in week six, and 17% at six months, compared to the no feedback group. Additionally, the feedback group subjects were 1.7 times more likely to achieve an average of 7,000 steps per day than the no feedback group subjects at six weeks after surgery. Six weeks after surgery, the feedback group participants were back to their pre-op activity levels (100%) and at six months, they were actually stepping more (137%). While 83% of the no feedback group participants reported they were satisfied with the results of the surgery, 90% of the feedback groups reported the same.

With mobility and physical activity being imperative to healthy aging and very helpful for recovery after total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty, incorporating an activity monitor into your post-operative rehabilitation is a great idea for health and exercise motivation.

Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in total knee arthroplasty, total hip arthroplasty, exercise and health, and more. Contact Dr. Stickney to return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle.