The Scarborough Hospital hosts innovative Oxford Knee surgery for surgeons


As part of The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process for selected U.S. orthopaedic surgeons, The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) hosted, in May, an instructional course on the Oxford Knee replacement surgery via video feed to the Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto for 150 U.S. and Canadian orthopaedic surgeons.

“This new knee operation is extraordinary. Patients are out of the hospital within two to three days following the surgery. With other knee replacements patients stayed in the hospital for at least seven days,” said Dr. James Rathbun, TSH senior orthopaedic surgeon. “Patients have greater mobility following this surgery and the procedure is much less invasive. The Oxford Knee reduces pain, re-aligns the limb and restores function sooner than the classical operation.”

The knee joint is made up of three compartments. When osteoarthritis affects primarily one compartment, it is possible with the Oxford procedure to replace only the worn out compartment, preserving the other two. The Oxford procedure also preserves both cruciate ligaments, which is not the case with the full knee replacement. Unlike other implants, the Oxford Knee is currently the only fully mobile bearing unicompartmental knee system in Canada.

The Oxford Knee is intended for use in individuals with osteoarthritis or avascular necrosis limited to the medial compartment of the knee. Seventy-three-year-old Alfred MacInnis, whose left knee was operated on for the instructional course, was the perfect candidate for the Oxford Knee.

Explaining his willingness to take part in the video instructional course, MacInnis says, “It was a win-win situation. I’d get a new knee and through my operation many others would now be able to get one as well.”

Dr. Rathbun performed the first Oxford Knee replacement in North America on October 24, 2000 at TSH. Since then, Dr. Rathbun has performed close to 1000 such procedures, and the results have been extremely satisfactory. According to the Oxford Knee’s manufacturer Biomet Orthopaedics, Dr. Rathbun has performed the highest number of Oxford Knee surgeries in the world.

This new technique has a great impact on people suffering from degenerative arthritis and long-standing, disabling sports injuries. Developed at The Nuffield Orthopaedics Centre in Oxford, England, 20 years ago, approximately one in four patients with osteoarthritis of the knee are good candidates to receive an Oxford knee.

With a classic knee replacement, the incision is three times the size of that of the Oxford Knee and the kneecap has to be dislocated and moved to the side. With the Oxford surgical technique that isn’t necessary.

“The idea is that we are able to do a knee replacement through a small incision,” Rathbun said, noting the surgery is much less invasive than a traditional knee replacement.

The recovery time following the Oxford knee procedure is much shorter than it would be after a traditional knee operation. Most patients are released from the hospital within two or three days as opposed to seven. Patients enjoy greater mobility and less pain following the surgery, which only takes about an hour.

Research has shown that the newer types of knee replacements, particularly those with moveable plastic bearings like the Oxford Knee, have exceptionally low wear rates, potentially giving them even longer life expectancies.

Just a few weeks since his knee replacement surgery in front of 150 U.S. and Canadian orthopaedic surgeons, MacInnis can take the stairs with relative ease. Since his surgery, MacInnis has been undergoing physical therapy and impressing his physical therapist.

Two days post-op, MacInnis was walking without any aides going up stairs and is now able to fully extend his knee and his range of motion is normal.

“I wholeheartedly recommend the Oxford knee to anybody who is eligible for it,” says MacInnis.

The Scarborough Hospital (TSH), Canada’s largest urban community hospital, delivers innovative, high quality patient care, advocates for our community’s health and wellness issues, and is a leader in research, teaching and learning. TSH is a regional treatment centre for dialysis and is renowned for its sexual assault care centre and mental health programs. Affiliated with the University of Toronto, TSH is also a referral centre for vascular surgery, pacemakers and corneal implants. For more information on The Scarborough Hospital, please visit:

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