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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Orthopedics Channel
Reported August 19, 2009

Saving Younger Knees

CLEVELAND (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Most people take about 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. In the average lifetime, that's 115,000 miles. Most cars wear out by then -- so why shouldn't your knees? More than 400,000 people will need knee replacements this year, but before Gen X'ers go for the total trade-in, there's a new option that will keep younger knees in place -- longer.

They're the two loves of Melissa Link's life -- Elvis Presley and her son Sean. At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she enjoys both … if she can keep up.

"It's hard to do things on the playground or to carry him or to do the physical down on the floor, tying the shoes, everyday things you do," Link told Ivanhoe.

Link suffered severe knee pain starting at age 14. Doctors said there was little they could do.

"He laughed at me, and he told me my knees were bad and I wasn't old enough for knee replacements," Link said. "That was just the way my life was going to be."

Orthopedic surgeon Anthony Miniaci spent 10 years inventing a device to help people like Link. The new "partial resurfacing" is designed for people in their 40s and 50s with the early signs of arthritis.

"We can have different shapes and models to replace the parts of the joint that are arthritic without actually having to replace the whole joint," Dr. Miniaci, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Center in Cleveland, Ohio, told Ivanhoe.

Surgeons make a 3-centimeter incision to place the metal implant. Unlike total replacement surgery, the knee cap stays in place and no muscle is cut. Patients are in the hospital for one day instead of up to 10.

"What we've done here is that we actually replace your own anatomy so that once this is all healed and done, the function and range of motion of your knee should be exactly the same as it was before," Dr. Miniaci explained.

For the first time in more than a decade, Link's knees are pain-free.

"It's changed my life," Link said. "It's opened up being able to live life. You know, 29 years old is too young to have arthritis."

This procedure gives younger patients another option when stem cells and cartilage fail to help heal knees. Dr. Miniaci says he hopes the partial resurfacing can ward off total knee replacement for 15 to 20 years.

More Information

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Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length Dr. Miniaci

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Melissa Medalie at


Dr. Anthony Miniaci
Cleveland Clinic Orthopaedic and Rheumatologic Institute
(216) 518-3480
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