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New Sensor Device Provides Real-Time Data about Ligaments during Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Orthopaedic surgeons and researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center are the first in the Northeast to use a new device that incorporates sensors, microelectronics and wireless communication to provide real-time data about positioning, balance and tension of ligaments during total knee replacement surgery.

The fit, balance and overall quality of the replacement knee’s motion is important to improving recovery, extending the life of the replacement knee and increasing patient comfort. The device and accompanying software, called OrthoSensor, offers visual, quantifiable information to increase a surgeon’s ability to measure and ensure optimal position, fit and balance before it is removed and the new joint components are permanently fixed.

“Traditionally, orthopaedic surgeons determine the fit, stability and alignment during a total knee replacement surgery based on conventional mechanical instruments, their knowledge, ongoing training and years of experience performing similar surgeries,” said Richard Iorio, MD, the Dr. William and Susan Jaffe Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and chief, adult reconstructive division, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Having this simple, removable tool enables surgeons to match calibrations to a patient’s unique ligament structure and skeletal alignment before implanting the new joint.”

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), most patients who undergo total knee replacement surgery are between 50-80 years old – a population that is increasing with the aging baby boomer generation. For a knee implant to function correctly, proper balance of the soft tissues – such as ligaments, tendons and muscles – is critical. Connecting soft tissues too loosely or too tightly inhibits the joint’s full range of motion or can create minor instability. An imbalance can also result in the implant failing prematurely.

Researchers at NYU Langone’s Hospital for Joint Diseases are also using this new device to develop guidelines for best arthroscopic surgical treatment of specific knee injuries, as well as create a unique database and testing lab that may be useful for the development of future knee replacement devices.

“New research and treatments are needed to address a population that, when combined with greater activity on the one hand and overweight problems on the other, are driving increases in the demand for hip and knee replacements,” said Peter Walker, PhD, research professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, NYU Langone Medical Center. “Being able to assign precise balance and calibration data to specific conditions during the procedure will be helpful in providing the optimal treatment for a particular patient’s musculoskeletal condition.”

NYU Langone’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery performs more than 20,000 orthopaedic musculoskeletal procedures every year, including more than 3,000 knee and hip replacements.

NYU Langone Medical Center’s musculoskeletal specialists and surgeons are ranked among the nation’s top 10 in the 2012-2013 U.S. News & World Report’s annual survey of “Best Hospitals” in America, and the only hospital in New York to receive top 10 rankings for orthopaedics (ranked #6), rheumatology (ranked #7) and rehabilitation (ranked #8).

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