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International Exchange Leads to New Surgical Procedures for Osteoarthritis in Fingers


Most Americans consider Western medicine — conventional health care developed through Western scientific traditions — as the pinnacle of modern medicine. That’s because Western medicine utilizes the latest technology, knowledge, and surgical equipment, and is backed by centuries of proven results. 

One of the best ways to advance Western medical treatments and procedures is by learning and sharing with colleagues from around the globe.

That’s why Dr. Tyson Cobb, a fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon specializing in the hand and upper extremity procedures, recently shared his findings on minimally invasive arthroscopic hand surgery at an intensive surgical conference hosted by the Italian Society for Surgery of the Hand (SICM) in Arezzo, Italy. Along with presenting, he also brought back to his practice – Orthopaedic Specialists in Davenport, Iowa – new and improved techniques for treating osteoarthritis in fingers.

Sharing Knowledge 
At the surgical conference, Dr. Cobb shared his groundbreaking findings regarding minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. “An arthroscope is a pencil-sized or smaller surgical tool equipped with a tiny video camera and light. The arthroscope is inserted through a small incision into the joint. Once the arthroscope is inserted, detailed images of the joint are shown on a video monitor, which provides detailed, enlarged, and perfectly-lighted views of the joint,” says Dr. Cobb. “This minimally invasive surgical technique typically results in less tissue damage and allows for faster recovery.”

Joints commonly viewed and treated arthroscopically by Dr. Cobb include the thumb and finger joints, wrist, elbow, and shoulder.

Learning Surgical Innovations
Dr. Cobb learned a great deal from the 14 other leading international hand surgeons also invited to present at the conference. This lead to new procedures offered at his practice that are currently not available elsewhere in the Unites States.

Specifically, Dr. Cobb discovered new surgical advancements in finger distal interphalangeal (DIP) total joint replacement for joint arthritis from Dr. Dave Elliot, a leading hand surgeon in England. The DIP joint is the joint of each finger closest to the fingernail. It is frequently involved in osteoarthritis, and can be a very painful and disfiguring condition.

According to Dr. Cobb, the most common surgical treatment in the United States for this condition is fusion. “A fusion procedure is a process where the arthritic joint is removed and the two bones are fixed with internal hardware, which causes the two bones to heal and grow or fuse together. Unfortunately, this results in total loss of motion of the DIP joint,” says Cobb. “While fusion is an accepted procedure for severe arthritic pain of the DIP joint, more recent findings by Dr. Elliot and colleagues from the U.K. show that their more advanced joint replacement procedure is substantially more appealing.”

In Dr. Elliot’s report of 131 cases using this method, he found that patients reported significant improvement in range of motion following the procedure. Furthermore, the severity of pain reported by patients improved significantly. The patients reported 98 percent satisfaction concerning the procedure and appearance of the finger following the procedure. Dr. Elliot also reported a very low complication rate of 5 percent.

“This is exactly why medical organizations such as SCIM hold these international conferences — to share knowledge and expose talent,” says Dr. Cobb. “I am pleased to say that Orthopaedic Specialists has adopted the total DIP joint replacement procedure from across the pond, and is currently offering this procedure stateside.”

For more information on Dr. Tyson Cobb or Orthopaedic Specialists, please visit www.osquadcities.com or call 563-344-9292 to schedule an appointment.

Photo credit: Jevtic/iStock