Knee surgery helps patients recover quicker
Imagine going into the hospital in the morning for knee replacement surgery and being home for dinner that evening. It's reality at Virtua Health, where same-day knee surgery is successfully getting patients home fast.
Dr. Scott Schoifet, a Virtua orthopaedic surgeon and medical director of the Joint Replacement Program, remembers seeing some of his minimally invasive knee replacement patients up and around the same day. Yet they were being kept in the hospital overnight. He wondered why they couldn't go home the same day, and set out to make it a reality. Today, Virtua is the only provider doing same-day knee replacement surgery.
Knee replacements are needed when the cartilage in the joints wears out, said Schoifet, who is recognized as a leader in minimally invasive surgery and total joint replacement procedures. Bad knees can be very painful and swollen and can interfere with daily living.
The key to Schoifet's same-day procedure is that he does not cut the quadriceps tendon. That allows for a faster recovery, less pain medication and less time in physical therapy.
"Unlike conventional knee replacement surgery, which requires an eight to 12-inch incision and the cutting of the quadriceps tendon, the minimally invasive technique requires only a three- to four-inch incision and no cutting of the quadriceps," he said. "Benefits include far less pain, scarring and a much shorter recovery time and people are back to normal function sooner. Everyone gets better faster when you do not cut that tendon."
The technique preserves the muscle and tendon. The same artificial joint used in conventional knee replacement is then fit into place.
Dr. Philip Varner, a Virtua physician, knows firsthand the benefits of same-day knee replacement surgery. Suffering from degenerative joints, he had just four days to recover and get back to his patients. The speed of recovery that same-day surgery offered was appealing, and he opted to take that avenue.
"It was clear that that route was less invasive, was very effective and required very little pain medication," Varner said. "It went very well and I had very little pain. It was the way to go." Recovery also went well, he said, and was back to work in four days as planned.
There are conditions, however, that must be met for Schoifet to perform same-day surgery. "Generally, they are people 55 to 65 years old who need to get back to work," he said. "They must also be healthy, with no heart disease or diabetes."
In same-day surgery, no pain medication is given intravenously. Pain is controlled locally, and prescription painkillers and anti inflammatory medications are only given for 24 hours afterward. While same-day surgery is still done at a hospital, Schoifet sees it being done on an outpatient basis in the near future, noting that partial knee replacements are already done that way.
Virtua was the first healthcare organization in the northeastern United States to earn certification from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) for its care and treatment of patients needing total joint replacements. And more patients come to Virtua for orthopaedic care than all other hospitals in Camden, Burlington and Gloucester counties combined. Minimally invasive procedures can also be an option for ankle, elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, spine and wrist surgery. The advantages to minimally invasive surgery include smaller incisions, decreased pain after surgery, shorter recovery time and a faster return to normal activities.
Schoifet has been traveling to places like the Mayo Clinic to demonstrate the intricacies of the minimally invasive procedure, and physicians are traveling to Virtua from Belgium and Japan to learn the procedure. "As word spreads about the many benefits minimally invasive knee replacement offers, it will become the standard," Schoifet said.
For more information or to make an appointment with an orthopaedic physician, call 1-888-Virtua-3.
As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, four acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, seven ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare
, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
and the Fox Chase Cancer Center
. It is the official orthopedic provider for the Philadelphia Flyers
. Virtua employs more than 8,400 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley for seven consecutive years. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit www.virtua.org