Robert Reed was an active man who practiced karate and played basketball, softball, and football. When he developed arthritis in his knees, he required surgery. Rather than a full knee replacement, doctors like Ira Kirschenbaum can perform a partial knee resurfacing.
“The knee has three separate compartments,” explains Kirschenbaum. “When only one part of the knee is diseased, we have the opportunity to just replace that part. Instead of fully replacing it, I’m able to simply resurface the end of the bone with metal on one side, and a high-density medical plastic on the other side, and leave the rest of the knee completely intact and leave all the ligaments and the rest of the person’s feelings of their knee as if it was their old knee.”
Only the damaged surface is replaced during a partial knee resurfacing, so trauma to healthy bone and tissue is minimized. In a total replacement, the whole knee is cut out. If the joint fails in the future, the entire mechanism must be replaced.
Partial knee resurfacing would not be an effective treatment option for people suffering from severe arthritis, or those battling rheumatoid arthritis. But Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum tells us, “Anyone with the osteoarthritis restricted primarily to one part of the joint is an excellent candidate. And that represents probably 70% of all the arthritis sufferers out there.”
Dr. Ira Kirschenbaum is a member of several professional orthopaedic associations and served on the board of the Hudson Valley Region Arthritis Foundation. As chief of reconstructive surgery at Kaiser Permanente in the Northeast, he was awarded the 1994 James A Vohs Award for Quality. He has developed instruments for unicompartmental knee replacements and a cementless hip replacement system, and is actively involved in research to improve knee and hip replacement techniques.