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New knee treatment injects special cement into patient's bone

November 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
More than 600,000 total knee replacements were performed in 2008. A study released this year shows that is up 134 percent since 1999. One doctor says many people could benefit from something much simpler.

Casey Lodge has always been an active guy. But constant knee problems have forced him to sit out. He's had four surgeries to repair the problems and developed bone marrow edema.

"It was just a constant, deep pain," said Lodge.

Dr. Preston Wolin, a surgeon and the director of sports medicine at the Chicago Center for Orthopedics, said the traditional answer has been knee replacement, but he had another option for Lodge's arthritic knee.

"The patient, instead of getting a plastic and metal knee, gets to keep their knee," said Wolin.

The treatment is called subchondroplasty. A device guides the doctor to the part of the bone near the joint that's causing pain, a small incision is made and special cement is injected right into the bone.

Done by itself, Wolin says recovery time is six weeks, compared to four to six months for a knee replacement. Lodge had it along with another procedure to help with a knee mal-alignment.

Wolin says the outpatient procedure can extend the life of knees by five to 10 years, but it's not for everyone.

"It's not a substitute for a knee replacement if there's advanced arthritis," said Wolin.

For Lodge, it was the answer to his painful problem.

"Got her fixed. It feels great," he said.

Wolin says the bone cement used in subchondroplasty dries in about 30 minutes. If it's not combined with another procedure, a lot of patients can walk right after the treatment.