Joint Replacements Last Longer

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

July 1, 2005

By the year 2020, arthritis will be the fastest growing disease in our country. Usually getting pain relief meant suffering even more pain from surgery. But, not anymore.

"Chief Nesbitt [has] probably one of the worst knees I've seen in my career," recalled Dr. Khaled Saleh, orthopedic surgeon at UVA Medical Center.

Harrison "Chief" Nesbitt used to play and coach football at UVA and he has been rough on his body.

"[He had] a knee that really ended up having what I think are degenerative tears but also had a fracture," he continued.

Dr. Saleh has had people come from all over the world for his joint replacements. Needless to say, Chief, like many suffering from arthritis needed a knee replacement.

Replacements typically only last up to about fifteen years and the have to be "replaced." But thanks to advances by UVA's Dr. Saleh, joints can now last a lifetime.

"The materials now that we're producing are certainly much more stronger. [They] acquiesce to the body's functions, allowing bone to grow into them when before we would cement them," the surgeon explained.

Dr. Saleh's new surgical technique cuts less soft tissue and muscle than before. Replacements used to require fourteen-inch incisions but now need one four-inch incision. This makes recovery time shorter and less painful.

"By minimally disrupting the soft tissues around the hip or knee, it allows the patient to return to function by removing the pain and allows them to rehabilitate at an earlier phase," said Dr. Saleh.

UVA's advances in joint replacement also means people do not have to wait to have the surgery, since doctors know the joint will last longer and be stronger.

"I walk a lot. I walked three miles yesterday," Chief shared. "I can do most anything that I want to do."

Dr. Saleh has had patients from as far away as India come in for his joint replacements.

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