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Return-to-Work Rate High After Knee Replacement, Study Finds
Date:3/22/2013

By Mary Brophy Marcus
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Getting back to work after knee-replacement surgery is a big concern for people contemplating the procedure. Now, a new study shows that most people return to work after a total knee replacement -- even those with physically demanding jobs.

The research, scheduled for presentation Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in Chicago, shows that 98 percent of people who undergo total knee replacements are able to go back to work afterward.

"We were very surprised by the results," said study author and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Adolph Lombardi, president of Joint Implant Surgeons, an orthopedic surgery practice in Columbus, Ohio, which specializes in knee and hip replacements. "We're doing an operation that is helping patients to stay in their work environment."

Total knee replacement, also called total knee arthroplasty, is typically recommended when a knee joint is severely damaged by arthritis, said Dr. Fabio Orozco, a joint-replacement surgeon at the Rothman Institute and an assistant professor of orthopedics at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Orozco was not involved with the research.

Genetics, age, sports injuries and other causes can play a role in the need for knee replacement. The two-hour surgery involves an incision in the knee, cleaning out damaged bone and cartilage, realigning and balancing the joint space, and replacing it with an artificial joint made of special metals and plastics. The aim is to relieve pain and improve function and mobility.

The study involved nearly 700 knee replacement patients from five medical centers who were questioned by an independent survey company.

Sixty-one percent of the study patients were women, and 75 percent were employed during the three months before their knee surgery. They ranged in age from 18 to 60 years old, and the a
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