Concordia Way 2018 Spring Issue - Page 4

Concordia Foundation News
6 Hip and Knee Institute finding ways to stay ahead of joint problems
Continued from page 1
The HKI’s state-of-the-art wet lab is helping tomorrow’s hip and knee surgeons master
innovative surgical techniques.
teoarthritis, a chronic disorder that damages tissue surrounding
a joint. It affects more than 10 per cent of Canadians aged 15 or
older, but it’s more likely to strike later in life. Several factors can
lead to or aggravate the condition, says Dr. Turgeon.
“Injuries to the cartilage sometimes manifest themselves later
in life as arthritis. Many patients we see were born with abnormal
joint alignment, and over decades, that misalignment can lead to
joint degeneration. Some have known about the problem since
childhood; others only discover it later in life, thanks to the onset
of hip pain.”
Obesity is another major driver of the condition, he adds,
especially in the knees. Wear and tear can also play a role. These
days, Dr. Turgeon and his fellow surgeons are seeing fewer joint
problems due to rheumatoid, or inflammatory, arthritis, thanks
to improved medications and treatments.
Sudden impact
A self-described “instant gratification junkie,” Dr. Turgeon
was drawn to a career in arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery)
in medical school after observing the enormous and immediate
impact the procedures had on patients.
“The surgery itself only takes me about 45 minutes to an hour.
Stress test: machines put joint implants through their paces
It's incredibly rewarding to see a patient who came here with severe
pain, who can't sleep, who can't walk, who can't play with their
grandkids (or their kids, in some cases), come back in six weeks
and tell me they’re walking normally and free of pain.”
He recalls one patient, a mother in her 30s, who had walked
abnormally and lived with chronic pain since childhood, in spite
of numerous surgeries. “We replaced her hip and got her walking
almost normally for the first time in her life. She was finally able
to pick up and carry her child. I don’t even have words for how it
felt to make that possible.”
Hip and knee replacement are two of the most cost-effective
medical interventions ever developed, he adds, because of how
vastly their benefits outweigh their cost. “They’re more effective at
improving quality of life than transplants, dialysis, bypass grafting
for the heart, because they improve function and dramatically
reduce pain.”
Dr. David Hedden, a surgeon at the Hip and Knee Institute,
says another advantage is the durability of today’s hip and knee
interventions. “Innovations in surgical technique and quality of
the joint implants we use have completely changed patient expectations. We now offer joint replacements to patients of any age, and
we expect them to return to a normal, active life with very few
restrictions, and the confidence that the joints we are implanting
will last at least 20 years.”
Learning from failure
While the number of surgeries that the surgeons at the Hip and
Knee Institute perform per year is capped at approximately 1,400,
the number of people around the world requiring hip and knee surgery continues to grow at a rate of 6 per cent annually—an increase
due in part, in Canada at least, to the aging of our population.
Which is why the Institute was designed to provide more than
surgery. It is also a centre of research and innovation that aims to
improve technology, surgical techniques, and quality of life not
only at home, but across the globe.
The Hip and Knee Institute’s research program includes case
studies that examine implant devices currently on the market, or
the safety and efficacy of devices not yet on the market. Much of
this research takes place in the Institute’s mechanical testing lab,
where banks of machines run implant devices through their paces,
cranking them this way and that, applying pressures from various
angles millions of times to simulate the stresses that movement in
the human body can place on a joint over years or decades.
Dr. Turgeon searches for an implant in the Implant Retrieval Database.
4 The Concordia Way
Spring 2018


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