Arthritis - rheumatoid
Certain surgical techniques may be helpful for people with severe deformities or disabilities.
Arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is performed to clean out bone and cartilage fragments that cause pain and inflammation. It is usually performed on the knee, but it also may be done on the hip:
In many cases, the procedure can be done using local anesthetic, and the patient can go home within a day. In the case of knee operations, patients can resume mild activity in a couple of days, but full recovery can take up to 3 months.
Osteotomy. If only a certain section (the medial compartment) of the knee is damaged and deformed, the surgeon may choose to perform osteotomy:
The procedure is best used in heavier adults who are under 60 years old.
Unicompartmental Knee Arthroplasty. Unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (also called unicondylar knee arthroplasty) may be a useful procedure in some cases of limited damage in the knee. It is intended to relieve pain and preserve function as long as possible before a total knee replacement is necessary. The procedure involves a small incision and insertion of small implants. It retains important knee ligaments, which should preserve more movement than a total knee replacement. The procedure is not widely available and is somewhat controversial, since the implants may not be as reliable as those in total knee replacement.
Synovectomy. Synovectomy is a procedure whereby the diseased joint lining is removed. It is used when more conservative measures fail, particularly in the wrist. Studies are suggesting, however, that with the use of lasers for the procedure, eventually synovectomy may prove to be an alternative to DMARD treatments in reducing symptoms and achieving long-term remission.
Joint Replacement Surgery. Eventually, even after these procedures, rheumatoid arthritis may progress to the point that normal functioning is impossible. In such cases, artificial (prosthetic) replacement joint implants may be considered for knees, hips, or other joints. The prosthesis is usually made of a chromium alloy and plastic and may be attached to the adjoining bones using a cement, polymethyl methacrylate, or the prosthesis may be composed of a porous material that allows bone to grow into and eventually adhere to the device.
Although this procedure has usually been performed in people over 60, implants are now lasting 20 years and more and younger patients with severe disability are finding them useful.
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