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A painful joint can stop you in your tracks. When other treatments have failed, joint replacement surgery which replaces a damaged joint with an artificial one can get you back in motion, whether the discomfort is caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid disease or arthritis due to an injury.

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If want to use a particular device that I feel is best for the patients ... Overlake will embrace that.

In many cases, surgery can be life changing. “If a patient with a very bad knee is suffering a lot of pain and physical impairment,” says orthopedic surgeon Douglas Patch, MD, “surgical procedures can have a dramatically positive impact on his or her life for many years.”

THE DREAM TEAM

In 2014, Overlake’s Joint Replacement Center performed 726 total hip replacement surgeries and 879 knee replacements.

Those numbers make a difference in the operating room, according to orthopedic surgeon James Bruckner, MD. “If you are looking for the optimal outcome and fewer complications after surgery, you need a high-volume joint replacement center and a high-volume joint replacement surgeon,” he says.

In addition, patients who choose Overlake for joint replacements can feel confident they are in expert hands. “One thing that improves outcomes is surgeons who are fellowship trained, and all the joint specialists at Overlake have those credentials,” adds surgeon Steve Ratcliffe, MD.

ON THE LEADING EDGE

Overlake uses only the latest techniques and technologies to ensure patients get the best care available. Surgeons have also discovered more effective ways to treat the soft tissues around the joint and better medications for quelling pain. These advanced developments translate into a host of patient benefits, including smaller incisions, less pain and blood loss, and speedier recoveries.

The quality of artificial joints has also improved. Materials have evolved from simple polyethylene to advanced combinations of highly cross-linked polyethylene and ceramic. Dr. Ratcliffe says these dramatically improve “the wear properties, increasing the joint’s longevity by magnitudes.”

Overlake’s orthopedic surgeons are quick to point out all of this would not be possible without the support the medical center gives to its program, enabling them to access cutting-edge and customized instrumentation. “If I want to use a particular device that I feel is best for the patients,” Dr. Bruckner says. “Overlake will embrace that.” Dr. Patch offers an example: “I will soon be performing a knee replacement on a patient who has a rod in her femur because she had a hip fracture in the past,” he says. “The presence of the rod complicates the surgery, so I can’t do it in the traditional way. Overlake is helping me to obtain a custom-made device, thereby allowing me to perform the procedure without having to remove the rod.”

With all of the emerging technology on the market, Overlake’s well-trained orthopedic surgeons can help patients make sense of it all. “There’s a lot of information out there, so patients often come to the office with questions about specific implants or surgical techniques,” says Jonah Hulst, MD, another surgeon on the team. “We have a team to help them navigate these decisions. But it’s most important patients find a surgeon they trust and like because a joint replacement is a big commitment, and their surgeon will see them through it.”

A HOLISTIC APPROACH

Aside from offering surgery, Overlake’s comprehensive joint replacement program provides patients with education, multidisciplinary care and hospital rooms on
a dedicated orthopedic floor.

Before surgery, patients receive a book detailing joint replacement care, covering topics such as preparing the patient’s home for recovery. Patients and their caregivers can attend Overlake’s total joint education class, which is taught by orthopedic nurses, recovery room nurses, and physical and occupational therapy professionals.

Surgical patients receive a lot of pre-op guidance and post-op care from orthopedic-trained nurses. “The nursing staff is not just wonderfully competent, but also kind and caring,” Dr. Ratcliffe says.

Throughout each patient’s day of surgery, loved ones get updates via a status board in the waiting area. “This allows them to see exactly where their loved one is in the surgical process—from start of surgery, to close of surgery, to recovery room, to the patient being transferred to his or her hospital room,” says Erin Udell, RN, program manager for total joint, spine and orthopedic trauma.

As patients recover, the team guides them through gentle exercises to help reduce the formation of scar tissue. The staff also surveys postoperative patients about the program and uses their feedback to make improvements.

Once patients return home, they have access to a special phone hotline where they can ask Udell questions. “We really look at all aspects of the program and ask ourselves, ‘What can we do better for our patients?’ ” Udell says. “We want to make the surgical experience as positive as possible.”

Trauma: Treating Bones and Beyond

Treating trauma—which can be caused by a high-speed car accident, falling from a roof, or tripping on a rug and breaking a hip—is complex.

“Joint surgery for trauma patients is often more difficult because they can have multiple injuries,” says orthopedic surgeon Christopher Boone, MD. There may be head injuries, internal organ damage or burns.

For these patients, Overlake’s orthopedic surgeons coordinate with emergency room doctors, internal medicine physicians and other specialists to evaluate the whole patient. “If someone has had a high-energy injury, significant soft tissue injuries can be more important to address right away than a leg that doesn’t work because of a fracture,” says Silas Marshall, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and trauma specialist. “It’s a balance between life and limb. You have to prioritize the injuries.” In addition, the surgeon gives the patient a head-to-toe exam to sleuth out any hidden injuries. “A bad fracture in the tibia could cause a patient so much pain that she doesn’t notice she also has a wrist fracture,” Dr. Marshall says. “So I move every single bone and joint in the body to make sure patients aren’t having pain elsewhere.”

Following surgery or other treatment, physical therapy helps prevent stiffening around the joint. Patients with fragility fractures—such as those resulting from osteoporosis—can often benefit from spending time in short-term rehab. Overlake is currently developing a dedicated program to better serve fragility fracture patients.

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