Types of Knee Surgery

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    The Facts

    • Knee surgery comes in three basic varieties: arthroscopic, total knee replacement and partial knee replacement. Within the arthroscopic category, surgeons perform several different procedures. The most common among younger individuals is repair of the anterior cruciate ligament, which tears under extreme stress. ACL injuries are common among athletes in sports such as football and ice hockey.


    • In 1895, A.W. Mayo Robson performed the world's first knee-ligament repair procedure on a 41-year-old miner. In 1903, a Munich surgeon replaced an anterior cruciate ligament with braided silk, and Ernest W. Hey Groves performed the first ACL reconstruction in 1917. The 1980s brought knee replacements and a move toward arthroscopic procedures. In 1981, D.J. Dandy implanted a carbon fiber-reinforced ligament substitute. It wasn't until the 1950s that surgeons began to experiment with total knee replacements. A Canadian orthopedist developed a metal and plastic knee replacement in the late 1960s. A few years later, a doctor in New York City introduced a new design that serves as the prototype for today's knee replacement devices.


    • Arthroscopic procedures involve using small cameras inserted into the knee joint through a small incision. Surgeons use video monitors attached to the cameras to locate the injury in the knee and then make small cuts to insert the tools needed to repair the injuries. Partial knee replacements are used to repair arthritis in damaged sections of the knee. In advanced cases of arthritis, surgeons sometimes replace the whole knee joint.


    • Knee surgeries enable patients with mobility issues to rediscover the ability to walk normally and without pain. Most knee injuries do not heal without surgery and tend to worsen over time. Therefore, surgery is often the only option.


    • Arthroscopic procedures come in many varieties. They repair the meniscus, ACL, MCL, synovium and knee-cap misalignment. Over the years, doctors have introduced many different artificial joint materials and parts to provide better mobility following knee replacements.


    • Knee surgery is only in its infancy. In the late 20th century, surgeons introduced several innovations to improve procedures. In the early years of the 21st century, doctors and scientists began to consider new possibilities for knee-ligament replacement. They are experimenting with gene therapy and implants based on cell and tissue cultures.

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