The Scarborough Hospital leads in knee surgery


A Scarborough man who was North America’s original Oxford knee prosthesis candidate more than three years ago was up and moving within 24 hours after having his second Oxford knee replacement surgery in January at The Scarborough Hospital.

Jim Farwell, 73, became the first person in North America to undergo an Oxford knee replacement when he had the operation on his left knee in October 2000 at The Scarborough Hospital’s (TSH) General site. Farwell returned to TSH to have his right knee operation earlier this year by Dr. James Rathbun, senior TSH orthopaedic surgeon, who performed both of Farwell’s surgeries.

“In this procedure, we replace the most worn out compartment of the knee while preserving the other two knee compartments,” said Rathbun who has performed 500 of the more than 700 Oxford knee surgeries that have been done at TSH since Farwell’s first operation in October 2000.

“We’re doing more Oxford knee procedures than any other hospital in Canada,” Rathbun said. “And the reason for this is the spectacular results we have been able to achieve.”

Because of TSH’s seven distinct locations and high patient volumes, (last year admissions were up almost 5 per cent and about 42,000 surgeries were performed,) the hospital sees and responds to a wide variety of clinical cases, health care issues, and non-medical concerns. TSH is known for its deep community connections, leadership and results-driven health and wellness advocacy – including a reputation as a centre for excellence in this important area of orthopaedic surgery.

With a classical knee replacement, the incision is three times the size and the kneecap has to be dislocated and moved to the side. With the Oxford surgical technique, which was designed in Oxford, England, 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 three or four days as opposed to seven. Patients enjoy greater mobility and less pain following the surgery, which only takes about an hour.

Had Farwell undergone a traditional knee replacement, it would have taken him about three months to gain the range of motion he has been able to achieve in only three weeks,” Rathbun said, adding, “these patients are extremely mobile right away.”

“I’m doing everything. I’d recommend the Oxford knee to anybody who is eligible for it.”

Oxford knee replacement was started in the 1980s and has been undergoing constant refinement ever since. The procedure that is commonly used today is gaining in popularity and is referred to as Phase 3.

The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) is a multi-site urban community hospital that 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 and domestic violence care center and mental health programs. Affiliated with the University of Toronto, TSH is also a referral centre for vascular surgery, pacemakers and corneal implants. We are the heart of urban health.