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How Knee Salvage Surgery Can Save You from Having a Knee Replacement

with George Corbett, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon/Sports Medicine Specialist

We sat down for a Q&A with Dr. Drew Corbett, a fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon, and expert on surgical sports medicine at Baldwin Bone and Joint, who shared with us his insights on a type of surgery known as the knee “salvage” surgery, as well as some of the most relevant issues in surgical sports medicine to patients today.

Q: How can knee salvage surgery save you from having a knee replacement?

Dr. Corbett: When your knee pain severely limits you from performing even simple activities, you may be considering a knee replacement (also known as a knee arthroplasty). The surgery in question will remove the damaged knee cartilage and a small portion of the bone and replace it with metal implants that recreate the surface of the joint. But it may not be the only option. There may be an alternative surgery to “save” your knee without resorting to a complete knee replacement.

What are the potential downsides of getting a knee replacement?

Dr. Corbett: Knee replacements may be especially frustrating to younger patients because they limit movement and they may not last a lifetime. A knee replacement is like a tire. It has a limited cycle of use before it has to be revised. For younger age groups, there is a very high likelihood of another surgery. Younger people will also want to get back to their normal lifestyles, but doctors do not recommend running or jogging with a knee replacement. Finally, the new knee will work great but it will not feel natural—it will feel mechanical.

Who would be a good candidate for a knee “salvage” surgery?

Dr. Corbett: For patients who are relatively young and have had a routine knee arthroscopy but still experience knee pain, you may be a good candidate for a knee salvage surgery that could stave off a knee replacement surgery for as many as 15 years. In terms of health insurance coverage, the upper limit is 50-55 years of age for most insurance companies to agree to cover this procedure.

Dr. Drew Corbett is a fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon and an expert on surgical sports medicine at Baldwin Bone and Joint. If you are experiencing knee pain even after a previous knee surgery or think you might need a knee replacement but want to learn about possible alternatives, call (251) 625-2663 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Drew Corbett or another expert at Baldwin Bone and Joint.