New Techniques by The Steadman Philippon Research Institute Being Used to Delay-Eliminate Joint Replacement Surgery in Pre-Osteoarthritis Patients

Institute publishes latest annual report detailing evidence-based research into these medical findings

By eMedical Media
January 27, 2011

The Steadman Philippon Research Institute] (SPRI) located in Vail, CO has released their latest annual report. The findings can be found on the Institute's website at The report details the advancement of new medical treatments based on the findings related to evidence-based research into specific orthopedic disorders.

Several highlighted areas of the report focus on advanced treatment options for osteoarthritis, one of the most debilitating diseases among adults in the United States. Researchers believe that the advanced treatments that are the result of meticulous research by the Institute will delay or eliminate the need for joint replacement surgery. This exploration is essential in shaping the way orthopedic medicine is practiced throughout the world.

SPRI maintains a clinical medical research database that contains data and tracking points from every patient seen by The Steadman Clinic. By pulling data from this database, which includes more than 20 years of input and is the largest of its kind in the world, SPRI researchers can gain insight into specific orthopedic disorders, diseases and conditions. This insight enables orthopedic doctors to provide accurate diagnosis' and treatment options to their patients, while at the same time, taking into consideration the level of performance that each individual wishes to maintain.

One specific area of development documented in the report relates to new methods in which to diagnosis and treat osteoarthritis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that in the next 25 years at least 71 million Americans (up to 20% of the population) will have some form of arthritis, a degenerative condition of the joints, creating pain, swelling and limited movement for sufferers.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease characterized by the deterioration of articular cartilage accompanied by changes in the bone and soft tissue of the joint. Sufferers of osteoarthritis experience considerable pain in their joints. For many, osteoarthritis is an inherited disease, for others, it is caused by degenerative changes in the body or as a result of a prior sports or traumatic injury.
Over years of study, scientists at SPRI have found exciting new ways to treat the conditions that lead to osteoarthritis. These new surgical techniques, which are documented in the annual report, are paving the way for joint preservation. One method is to use the body's innate healing powers, which can be harnessed and manipulated to improve the natural healing process. The surgical technique known as "microfracture", developed by Dr. Richard Steadman, is used to enhance articular cartilage healing which makes it possible to postpone the degeneration of the joint that typically leads to osteoarthritis. Essentially, this treatment can delay or eliminate the need for joint replacement surgery in the future. More than 300,000 patients are treated with microfracture each year to repair chondral defects in various joints (i.e., hip, knee, shoulder).

Another technique pioneered and validated at the Institute, nicknamed "The Package" represents a series of arthroscopic procedures conducted during one operation designed to treat injuries in pre-arthritic and arthritic patients and to also preserve joints. This procedure has been performed on such patients as US Downhill Racing Champion and Olympic Skier, Lindsay Vonn, as well as Ken Griffin - founder and CEO of Citadel based in Chicago.

Another highlighted topic within the SPRI annual report focuses on hip injuries among athletes, which are becoming increasingly common. Many of these injuries are the result of years of strenuous twisting, rotating and over-use, starting very early in youth sports. The researchers at SPRI are studying this condition, which can cause pain every time a patient takes a step or participates in sports, because the femoral neck rubs up against the hip socket, which can ultimately cause a tear within the cartilage leading to a hip-impingement. This was the case with Alex Rodriguez, the third baseman for the New York Yankees.

In early 2009, the New York Yankees were into the new season and had just opened up their new multi-billion dollar stadium when Rodriquez began suffering from a damaged hip. Dr. Marc Philippon, a hip specialist and surgeon with The Steadman Clinic in Vail, was asked to make the diagnosis of Rodriguez's condition and propose a treatment plan. Because of the extensive database of evidence-based research at the Institute, Dr. Philippon was able to accurately diagnose the exact condition and create a surgery and rehab plan based on the vast evidence collected and analyzed through SPRI. This plan assured the Yankees' management that Rodriguez would be back early enough to have an impact on the season. The diagnosis, treatment path and recovery protocol were correct and Rodriguez went on to play in the 2010 World Series with a stunning performance, which was instrumental in the Yankees win.

Along with their significant accomplishments in pioneering joint preservation treatment options (for osteoarthritis) and new arthroscopic procedures to treat complex knee injuries and hip impingement, SPRI is also recognized worldwide for evidence-based research on rotator cuff injuries in the shoulder. The CAM procedure (Comprehensive Arthroscopic Management) is a direct result of the Institute's shoulder research.

CAM, a procedure developed and perfected by Dr. Peter Millett, an orthopedic shoulder surgeon at The Steadman Clinic, offers a very precise combination of surgical procedures that is aimed at treating all of the major pain generators in the shoulder. Through clinical research, it has been shown to decrease pain and improve function and can be performed in young, active patients with arthritis who wish to preserve their shoulder joints or in older patients who wish to avoid joint replacement surgery.

The Institute continues strives daily to collect key data on all of its patients. This date is used to publish clinically substantiated scientific research results on knees, hips, shoulders, and the spine. It has become the most published and the most innovative organization in sports medicine research and education and provides fellowship-training programs for future physicians.

About Steadman Philippon Research Institute
The Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) is dedicated to keeping people of all ages physically active through orthopaedic research and education in arthritis, healing, rehabilitation, and injury prevention. Founded in 1988 by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman as the Steadman Sports Medicine Foundation, the 501(c)3 charitable organization has influenced the practice of orthopedics throughout the world. Based in Vail, Colorado, it has become one of the most published organizations in sports medicine research and education.

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