Athlete. Knee surgeon. Orthopedist.
Knee replacements today look far different than they did just 15 years ago, when Dr. Casey Cornelius started his practice. In the early 2000s, he used his bare eyes and manual tools to remove damaged cartilage and resurface joints. Today his device of choice is a robotic arm, which allows him to work with more precision.
Better methods mean patients enjoy a greater range of motion after surgery. Because surgeons know even more about reducing pain and swelling, recovery is faster. What’s more, the surgery itself has a terrific track record.
“More than 90 percent of patients improve after surgery,” Dr. Cornelius says. “We have a lot of confidence in this.”
New options for patients
Knee replacements have come so far that low-risk individuals can now have Dr. Cornelius perform the surgery at the clinic’s Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC), rather than in the hospital. This means they can safely leave the day of their surgery to recover in the comfort of their own home.
“The overall patient experience is better and more positive when they are able to recover in their own place,” Dr. Cornelius says.
The clinic started offering outpatient knee replacements in January as part of its Total Joint Program. The program also includes ankles, with hips being added in the near future.
“I think this is the direction that joint replacement is going,” Dr. Cornelius says. “A high percentage of patients are young and active and need this. There is a huge demand for it.”
Health, support system key
Athletes and weekend warriors who require joint replacements due to previous injuries or wear and tear are driving the shift toward outpatient surgery. These patients have few medical problems. They generally enjoy a good support system at home and are motivated to recover. Together, these things make them good candidates, Dr. Cornelius says.
While younger people often have fewer health complications, individuals who are older yet healthy may also qualify. All patients go through a full medical screening to decide where their surgery should take place. No matter the patient’s age, individuals in the Total Joint Program are monitored closely to ensure they progress as doctors intend.
“Knee replacements are really gratifying to do,” Dr. Cornelius says. “People come to us in pretty significant pain, unable to do the things they once really enjoyed. Afterward, they see their quality of life improve significantly.”
Complete knee care
Dr. Cornelius loves seeing the before and after difference a knee replacement or partial knee replacement can make. He also deeply enjoys the other parts of his practice.
He takes care of patients of all ages and treats the full range of knee diseases. For example, he frequently performs arthroscopic surgeries for sports-related injuries. An athlete himself, he particularly enjoys getting patients back on the field, court, or track.
For many patients, surgery isn’t the answer at all. Lots of joint issues can be managed through activity changes, physical therapy, and other solutions.
“For me it’s about educating patients on their disorder and the options available,” Dr. Cornelius says. “I want them to be involved in the decision-making and be comfortable in those decisions.”
Investigate knee pain
Dr. Cornelius advises anyone experiencing long-standing knee pain that is affecting their quality of life, and anyone with a knee injury that hasn’t resolved, to be evaluated.
“With so many options available, there’s no reason to live with unnecessary pain or discomfort,” he says.