Two area physicians are now offering a GPS-like system to help monitor hip and knee replacements from within the body.
When Gerry Gorski had his right knee replaced a couple months ago at Central DuPage Hospital in suburban Winfield, he got something else along with the implant: tiny beads.
The beads will work as markers around the implant to help doctors keep an eye on how the artificial knee is doing over time.
"I walked to work the other day, which I wasn't able to do before, that's for sure, so I'm very optimistic about the golf season," Gorski said.
This new tracking system is being used by two physicians from Midwest Orthopedics at Rush University Medical Center.
They say they are the first in the country to offer this as an option for all hip or knee replacement patients who qualify.
"This is a technique now that will allow us to monitor these implants very, very closely, and determine that if what we are seeing as happening is actually happening in the body and the simulators," said Dr. Scott Sporer, a surgeon at Rush.
The procedure called radiostereometric analysis, or RSA, allows x-rays to be taken from different angles creating a 3D image.
Using the beads as markers or reference points around the implant, RSA could help physicians monitor whether a replacement implant is wearing down or moving.
It could also help provide research for future implant design and technology.
"It allows us to detect a very small amount of motion, whether it occurs after surgery or where it allows us to track it over time," Sporer said. "It helps the doctor clinically help you, be able to tell where your pain is coming from, and where your prosthesis is failing or not."
Physicians say the RSA technology will not cost patients anything extra and poses no risks.
The analysis process with be a team effort between the physicians and Halifax Biomedical, the company that developed the system.