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The Future of Outpatient Total Knees
Promising research and early use of high-tech devices provide a glimpse into what could someday be the norm in same-day joint replacements.
Adam Taylor | Senior Editor
Publish Date: August 2, 2022   |  Tags:   Healthcare IT Robotic Assistance Orthopedics
Tyler Watters
HIGH-TECH KNEES Tyler Watters, MD, MBA (right), the first surgeon in North Carolina to use a smart implant in a knee replacement, says use of the technology will one day be commonplace.   |   Tyler Watters

When a patient from Raleigh Orthopedic Clinic returned home from his knee replacement surgery in May, there was a base station on his nightstand awaiting his return. The station was there because the patient was the first person in North Carolina to receive a smart knee implant — essentially a Fitbit inside his body. The implant, the first of its kind approved for use by the FDA last year, features a small stem with a sensor on its base that allows the patient and his surgical team to know how fast the patient is walking, how far they’re walking each day and their new knee’s functional range of motion.

The sensor and the stem are effectively an extension of a normal knee implant. The stem has an accelerometer and goniometer in it and the sensor collects data as the patient walks for weeks and months postoperatively. Using Wi-Fi technology, the data that’s collected by the stem is linked to the base station, which uploads the data and transmits it to a HIPAA-compliant cloud-based platform that the patient and care team can access.

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