New type of knee surgery in Tulsa

Friday, May 31st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Only two Oklahoma doctors are trained to do a new type of knee surgery, one in Oklahoma City, the other in Tulsa.

The procedure uses a device called a 'Unispacer', which is like a ball bearing. News on Six reporter Angela Buckelew shows us how it works.

“I was hardly ever out of pain. I was in pain constantly." Over the years, Diana Ledford's arthritis had broken down the cartilage that protects the inside of her knee, that side had simply collapsed putting bone on bone. You can see it in the x-ray of her left leg, one side's up, the other down. "It is the most common type of arthritis condition in the knee for osteoarthritis."

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tom Tkaca suggested a new procedure. That uses this kidney shaped metallic device, called a 'Unispacer.' Dr. Tkaca's already put a 'Unispacer' in Diana's right leg. Here's how it works. Dr. Tkaca simply realigns her knee and normalizes ligament tension by slipping the 'Unispacer' in where cartilage should be. Allowing her knee to glide. Unlike total knee replacement, no bone is shaved off.

Diana's just 47 years old. Total knee replacement lasts ten to fifteen years. Dr. Tkaca says the 'Unispacer' will give her the padding she needs. "If we can get 10 years out of this procedure then that may mean the patient only has one knee replacement in their lifetime. She's got good medical lateral stability." With the results she's had just three months post-op, Diana plans to have her left leg operated on in June. "I don't hurt all night long."

Dr. Tkaca says the 'Unispacer' surgery costs less than total knee replacement, requires less of a hospital stay and you rehab at home. The 'Unispacer' is only for the inside of the knee.

Doctors are now working on developing a 'Unispacer' for the outside of the knee.