March 31st, 2003

Contact:      Jennifer Kurczek
      Community Relations Director

      (920)361-5481 or



BMH’s new orthopedic procedure decreases pain,

possibly delays the need for knee replacement


Persons suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee may find long-term relief – as well as improved quality of life – in Berlin Memorial Hospital’s (BMH) new orthopedic surgery procedure.


UniSpacer© Knee Surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that can significantly delay the need for a total knee replacement. Orthopedic surgeons Joel Cler, MD and David Jones, MD of the Central Wisconsin Orthopedics and Sports Medicine clinic, perform the procedures at BMH. They are two of only 600 surgeons trained nationwide for the procedure.


"After determining if the patient is an appropriate candidate for the procedure, we insert the UniSpacer© in the knee joint instead of cutting the bone and replacing the whole knee," said Dr. Jones. "Once it is in place, it helps relieve pain and improves joint stability because it restores ligament tension and normal knee alignment. Plus, it preserves the bone in the knee area until a knee replacement is absolutely necessary."


Traditionally, after conservative treatment has failed, the primary long-term solution for treating patients with severe knee pain was knee replacement surgery. Surgeons are generally reluctant to perform replacement surgery on younger, more active patients because of the required irreversible removal of bone, Dr. Cler said.


The UniSpacer© is small lightweight, metallic disk designed to actually move with the knee, not against it, and adapts to the normal motion of each individual's knee. It fits between the natural bone structures of the knee and stays in place without bone cement or screws.


During the UniSpacer© Knee Surgery, the patient is first given regional anesthesia which blocks feeling from the waist down. Then, the surgeon first performs an arthroscopy to remove any torn cartilage that may be present. Then, he sizes and inserts the UniSpacer© in the knee joint between the femur and the tibia bones. Patients typically stay overnight at the hospital and go home the next morning. Upon discharge, the eight to 12-week recovery period may include outpatient physical therapy while the patient works toward resuming his or her normal activities.


“Because they are in such incredible pain, many arthritis sufferers stop doing the activities they enjoy – eventually becoming sedentary. We’re seeing 80 to 90-percent pain relief in our patients,” Dr. Cler said. “And since it’s less demanding than traditional knee surgery, which may take up to a year for recovery, the UniSpacer© procedure boasts quicker recovery time.”


When Neshkoro resident Beulah Hieland could no longer withstand the pain in her knees after years of suffering from arthritis, she was referred by her chiropractor to Central Wisconsin Orthopedics. At the time, her left knee was anatomically deteriorating – causing her to compensate for the lack of support by placing all her weight on and utilizing her right knee more prevalently.


The result: ‘excruciating’ pain in her right knee, which prevented her from being able to walk great distances. “It (the pain) was severe and I couldn’t walk that good,” she said. “When I first saw Dr. Jones, I thought I was going to be having my knee replaced completely, so I was excited about the UniSpacer© option.”


Today, Heiland is walking longer distances comfortably – and grateful that total knee replacement was not her only option.


“Now, walking is much better for me. Having the UniSpacer© surgery was definitely worth it… I’d recommend it to other people in similar situations,” she said.


In addition to the new procedures, Drs. Cler and Jones, who are Board Certified in Orthopedic Surgery, offer a full gamut of orthopedic and sports medicine services, including hip and knee replacements, arthroscopy of the shoulder, knee, wrist, elbow and ankle, carpal tunnel repair and fracture treatment. With their main office located at 191 Memorial Drive in Berlin, the orthopedic team has outreach clinics in Ripon, Waupun and Wild Rose.


Dr. Cler graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and also completed his residency at the McLaren Regional Medical Center. Dr. Jones graduated from Cornell Medical College in New York and completed his residency in orthopedics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.


More information about the UniSpacer© Knee Surgery is available by calling Central Wisconsin Orthopedics at (920)361-2500.


Photo Illustration:


The kidney-shaped UniSpacer© fits between the natural bone structures of the knee and stays in place without bone cement or screws.