Reducing pain and complications following total knee arthroplasty by minimizing patellofemoral contact loads intra-operatively

The primary reason for someone to undergo a knee replacement is to reduce pain due to arthritis. Unfortunately, some people who have the surgery will have similar, or even more, pain after their knee replacement. It is difficult to predict which patients will have this outcome and it is difficult to treat the pain post-operatively. Much of the pain is likely related to points of high pressure (high contact loads) between the kneecap (patella) and the thigh bone (femur), or unusually stretched soft tissues between the bones. A potential way to minimize pain and other problems following surgery would be to detect these points of high pressure during the operation and make adjustments to the positions of the implants or the tensions of the soft tissues to reduce the contact loads. If the contact loads could be minimized during the surgery, the outcome would be less pain and fewer subsequent surgeries due to wear, loosening or fracture of the components. Dr. Carolyn Anglin intends to reduce pain and improve the outcome of knee replacement surgery by developing a computer-aided system to help identify pressure points during surgery. In addition to performing a cadaver study to investigate the effects of different placements of the artificial components on cadaver specimens, she will review X-rays, patient charts and patient-completed questionnaires to determine the relationship between the placement of components and the resulting quality of life after surgery. Her ultimate goal is to develop a system that can measure the forces between the kneecap and the thigh bone, then display them on a computer screen. This will allow the surgeon to choose the best positions for the components. Such a system could dramatically reduce the incidence of pain and complications following knee replacement surgery.