NEW ORLEANS -- Knee replacements are expected to skyrocket from a half million a year now, to 3.5 million by 2030.
The reasons? The high rate of diabetes, obesity and aging baby boomers.
Now a local surgeon has created a way for knee replacement patients to go home the same day and heal faster.
Lana Martin has had both knees replaced because she has rheumatoid arthritis. It's an auto-immune disease that attacks her joints.
"It's a struggle everyday. It's a struggle every day," said Lana Martin, 48, of Harahan.
Ben Head also struggled from an old motorcycle injury and before his new replacement, it was bone on bone.
"Just constant grinding, grinding, grinding. Whoo, it was bad. It was bad. I mean, there was some days I felt just like falling to the ground from the pain," said Ben Head, 53, of Luling.
But Lana and Ben were the first patients to have the Rapid Recovery Knee Replacement. It was developed by by LSU Health Sciences Center orthopedic surgeon Dr. Vinod Dasa and his team.
Twenty patients so far have left the hospital walking the same day of surgery. And with physical therapy beginning the next day, they are walking unassisted in around six weeks, rather than it taking the usual three to four months. Patients are in the O.R. for an hour or so, just sedated.
And along with a computer assistance, Dr. Dasa's incisions and techniques mean less blood loss, trauma and post operative pain and stiffness.
"So we don't have to block the nerves that control the muscle. We can simply block the nerves that control the pain. But now that we can get them moving much earlier because they are pain free, everything heals much better," explained Dr. Vinod Dasa, an LSUHSC Orthopedic Surgeon.
"I'm up cooking and they told me, 'You won't be able to cook,'" remembers Martin.
"If I had to do it again, I would have done it sooner," Head said.
Dr. Dasa has concerns about the increased volume of replacement surgeries in the future. Orthopedic surgeons trained in joint replacements are projected to only be able to handle 30 percent of the cases.
There simply will not be enough surgeons.
For more call Dr. Dasa's clinic at Kenner Regional at 504-412-1700.