ARTHRITIS PATIENTS BENEFIT FROM ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY
WILLIMANTIC, CT, February 21, 2008 – More than 20 million Americans suffer the debilitating effects of osteoarthritis. The degenerative disease can occur anywhere in the body, but most often appears in weight-bearing joints such as the knees, as cartilage around the joint stiffens, causing it to lose its shock-absorbing quality. As bone eventually meets bone, pain and a decrease in mobility follow, and surgery may be required.
Fortunately, Windham area residents can count on Dr. Vincent MacAndrew, and a new technology to help. He is one of the first physicians in Connecticut to employ the OtisMed knee replacement system, which creates a customized surgical template based on 3D MRI imaging. The MRI also allows Dr. MacAndrew to order customized joint replacement components that precisely mimic the original non-diseased knee and fit perfectly into the patient's bone structure. Prior to the availability of this technology, only a few implant sizes were available, and surgeons inserted a guide rod into the leg bones to ensure correct placement – another intrusion into the body which complicated the surgery and slowed healing.
The new OtisMed system eliminates the need for the guide rod, and gives Dr. MacAndrew the knowledge he needs to perform the implant surgery. Dr. Steven Howell, an orthopedic physician based in Sacramento, and OtisMed, a medical software company, collaborated in the development of the process, which was approved for use in June 2007. Making the procedure available to area residents has "been in process a long time," according to Dr. MacAndrew "Before offering the surgery, the Hospital was required to meet strict criteria, and the surgeon certified by OtisMed. The upgrades to our MRI unit – which made higher-resolution imaging a reality – and Windham Hospital's excellent radiology department were major factors in our approval," he says. Dr. MacAndrew returned to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia (his alma mater) to train in the technique, and to observe a colleague, Dr. Joe Vernace, performing the surgery.
The outcome? Dr. MacAndrew beams, "It's great to see patients who have less pain and improved mobility and range of motion – and so quickly! Very few community hospitals can offer this technology to their patients."
Knee replacement surgeries are becoming more common than ever before, thanks to an aging and increasingly heavier population. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recently reported that more than 478,000 people had total knee replacement surgery in 2004 – nearly double the number logged in 1998. At the same time, the average number of days spent hospitalized for the procedure has declined, and patients are up and walking within hours of their surgeries.
In Connecticut, only Windham patients and Danbury Hospital patients have the option of OtisMed knee replacements. Dr. MacAndrew says he is "delighted to offer the service at Windham. It's just so much better for our patients," he concludes.
The new OtisMed knee replacement system is just one of a number of technological advances made in recent memory at Windham Hospital. In the past year, the Hospital has acquired a new 64-slice CT scanner, and upgraded the MRI unit, pharmacy, OB monitoring, and patient information systems. Information about specific services or physicians is available using the Hospital Physician Referral Line at 860.456.6770; callers should specify “Otis Knee” when calling the physician referral line to be directed to the new knee replacement service.