More than 600,000 total knee replacements were performed in 2008. A study this year shows that's up 134 percent since 1999. One doctor says some people are getting them, when they could benefit from something much simpler.
Casey Lodge has always been an active guy.
"I get bored sitting around," said Lodge.
But constant knee problems have forced him to sit out.
"It's just been a cycle for 10, 12, 15 years now," said Lodge.
He's had four surgeries to repair the problems and developed bone marrow edema.
"It was just a constant deep pain," he said.
"The traditional answer has been a knee replacement," said Dr. Preston Wolin, Surgeon and Director of Sports Medicine of the Chicago Center for Orthopedics.
But Wolin had another option for Casey's arthritic knee.
"So the patient instead of getting a plastic and metal knee gets to keep their knee for a longer period of time," Wolin explained.
It's called subchondroplasty. This device guides the doctor to the part of the bone near the joint that's causing pain. A small incision is made and special cement is injected.
"Right into the bone," Wolin said.
Done by itself Wolin says recovery time is six weeks compared to four to six months for a knee replacement.
Lodge had it along with another procedure to help with a knee mal-alignment.
"So the hope is that this will make that operation better and last longer," Wolin said.
Wolin says the outpatient procedure can extend the life of knees by five to ten years, but it's not for everyone.
"It's not a substitute for a knee replacement if there's advanced arthritis," said Wolin.
For Lodge it was the answer to his painful problem.
The doctor says the bone cement used in subchondroplasty dries in about 30 minutes. If not combined with another procedure, a lot of patients can walk right after the procedure.
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