New minimally invasive surgical procedure for arthritis may delay knee replacement surgery

AUSTIN, Tex. (April 4, 2002) A promising new treatment for people suffering from early-stage osteoarthritis of the knee is now available in the United States. The UniSpacer(TM) Knee System, manufactured by Sulzer Orthopedics Inc., a subsidiary of Sulzer Medica Ltd., is a timely solution for those finding themselves slowed down by arthritis.

The UniSpacer is a small, minimally invasive device made of cobalt chrome that fits between the natural bone structures of the knee and stays in place without bone cement or screws. It is geometrically designed to center itself and follow the normal motion of each individuals knee. It allows the surgeon to preserve the patients bone by replacing only the damaged cartilage and addressing alignment. Because the UniSpacer does not require fixation or bone cuts, it does not compromise future conversion to total knee replacement.

This is an exciting time in the area of joint restoration, said Richard Hallock, M.D., design surgeon of the UniSpacer. With this new procedure, we may be able to extend a patients active lifestyle by delaying traditional knee replacement and retaining the natural anatomy.

Traditionally, the primary long-term solution for patients with severe knee pain was knee replacement surgery, in which the surgeon replaces the damaged knee with an artificial implant. Surgeons are generally reluctant to perform replacement surgery on younger, more active patients because of the irreversible removal of bone required. Until now, the most prevalent options for delaying partial or total knee replacement were short-term arthroscopic procedures or dependence on pain medications.

John Rochat, a 46-year-old police chief from Millersville, Pa., is one of more than 400 people to have received a UniSpacer in the U.S. A former college football and track athlete, Rochat began developing pain in both of his knees at age 30. Told by his doctors that he was too young for total knee replacement surgery

Contact: Thomas Aitchison
512-335-8771 x15
Hill and Knowlton

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