Of all the medical breakthroughs of the past 100 years or so, the invention of the X-ray in 1895 was surely one of the most significant. Not only did it allow physicians to see inside the human body, but it launched a new era in the diagnosis and management of orthopedic conditions including bone fractures and osteoarthritis.
Since then, orthopedic technology has rapidly evolved from the development of arthroscopic and joint surgery in the mid-20th century to new, cutting-edge techniques in use in the 21st century.
Here are just some of the game-changing advances in orthopedics over the years:
- Minimally Invasive Arthroscopy – When it was first introduced in the 1960s, arthroscopy was mostly confined to knee reconstruction surgery. Today, it is used to perform minimally invasive procedures on virtually every joint in the body. Using an instrument equipped with a camera that is inserted into the body through a small incision, orthopedic surgeons can examine a painful joint, provide a diagnosis, and perform corrective surgical procedures swiftly, efficiently, and more successfully.
- State-of-the-Art Joint Arthroplasty – Not only have joint replacement procedures improved over the last few decades, but the materials used for implantation have been modified for greater durability and effectiveness. For example, the introduction of porous metals and refinements in alternative bearing surfaces and polyethylene implants have greatly enhanced total hip replacement. This has helped decrease implant wear while increasing joint function following surgery. Similar design modifications – particularly those involving modular components and unicompartmental implants – have all but revolutionized knee arthroplasty.
- Advanced Imaging Capabilities – Old-school X-rays of years gone by have now been replaced with digital X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and ultrasound. These allow orthopedic doctors to zero in on specific affected areas with superior accuracy. In addition to providing more diagnostic alternatives, advanced imaging enables more precise and effective treatment.For example, the use of three-dimensional CT and MRI also allows manufacturers and surgeons to provide implants that are unique to their patients’ individual physiology. Then there’s the use of mobile and mini C-arm fluoroscopy. It’s a form of quality X-ray imaging in a smaller and less costly device. It is noninvasive and less difficult to use, yet versatile enough to be used in either a large hospital operating theater or in a small surgical room. It also is more comfortable for claustrophobic patients than a confining MRI.
- Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs) – In the 1960s, scientists identified multifunctional growth factors derived from human matrix that help generate new bone and cartilage function. Dubbed “wonder proteins,” these growth factors are now being used in the fusion and repair of fractures and segmental bone defects during spine and trauma surgery. In fact, it is believed that BMPs will eventually serve a key role in the regeneration of skeletal parts.
As you can see, orthopedics has come a long way in a relatively short time. But with the pace of its progress, the best is surely yet to come.
If you have pain or swelling in a joint, an orthopedic physician can help diagnose and treat your injury to prevent further harm. OrthoUnited in North Canton, Ohio, offers experienced providers and the latest diagnostic techniques to ensure prompt care. Call (844) 469-2663 for an appointment today.