Discover how a tiny metal implant relieves worn-out knees without the need for knee replacement surgery.
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Jennifer Matthews: Since retiring, Joann Wilkerson enjoys seeing new places and capturing memories. The one problem, though, has been a bad knee. JoAnn Wilkerson: I'm an amateur photographer and I had stepped in a hole taking pictures one time and the knee swelled up. Jennifer Matthews: The underlying cause is osteoarthritis in her knee. Dr. Steven Lyons: It is basically a wearing out of the cartilage surface and, once worn out, it can cause bone to rub on bone, which can be painful. Jennifer Matthews: This x-ray shows Joann's missing cartilage. Bone spurs have grown on the side, causing pain. JoAnn Wilkerson: It feels as though there's something pushing in there really hard and it's trying to explode the bone. Jennifer Matthews: Traditionally Joann would have a knee replacement. instead, she became a candidate for a new procedure using a kidney-shaped device called a Unispacer. Dr. Steven Lyons: It centers itself within the knee, geometrically with the anatomy of the knee, and is held in place with the ligament tension. Jennifer Matthews: The piece fills up space and props up the inside part of the knee. Here is her knee before and after. The catch is - long-term results are not known. Doctor Lyons says patients know that but aren't concerned. Dr. Steven Lyons: They are willing to accept not knowing long-term in order to have this device so they don't have to undergo a knee replacement. Jennifer Matthews: Joann had surgery six weeks ago and says she's happy to be back on her feet. JoAnn Wilkerson: Springtime and it's a shame to have to miss it staying in the house because something hurts. Jennifer Matthews: Now that the pain is gone - she can. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.