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By Nancy Ridgeway
Dr. Lindsey Rolston ’85 shows the knee replacement implant he invented. He now travels worldwide to demonstrate the implant procedure to other surgeons. © Mike McKown
The diagram shows the Journey Deuce Knee System, manufactured by Smith and Nephew, and released in July 2007. The implant replaces the kneecap and inner portion of the thigh and shin bones — the areas of the knee most commonly damaged by arthritis — and leaves the cruciate ligaments in place. © Smith and Nephew
Once a leader on the field as co-captain of the Bradley baseball team, Dr. Lindsey Rolston ’85 is now a leader —and inventor — in the field of orthopedic surgery.
Rolston, an Indiana orthopedic surgeon, has invented a knee replacement implant that results in easier recovery in less time. The surgery preserves parts of the knee often not affected by osteoarthritis. He explained, “The outside part of the knee was normal about 50 to 70 percent of the time, but I had to take it away with conventional total knee replacement. Also the anterior cruciate ligament, which we try to preserve in athletes, had to be cut out with the old replacements,” Rolston said.
With a goal of making patients’ recoveries as smooth as possible, Rolston created a knee replacement that offers a minimally invasive, bone- and ligament-preserving treatment alternative to traditional knee replacement surgery. Called the Journey Deuce© Knee System, it replaces only the two areas of the knee most commonly affected by osteoarthritis, the kneecap and medial compartment (inner portion of the thigh and shin bone), while keeping the third area (the lateral portion of the femur and tibia) intact. The device also keeps the cruciate ligaments in place, allowing for more stability and mobility.
After submitting a patent, Rolston contacted Smith & Nephew Orthopedic Reconstruction and teamed up with the company to produce and distribute the implant. After a six-year process of working with engineers to create prototypes, doing surgeries with the device for the past four years, gradually releasing the device to 20 other surgeons for their input, and overseeing numerous revisions to the implant, it was unveiled in July 2007. Rolston estimated he has trained about 200 surgeons worldwide and still has a full schedule of training sessions ahead.
Affiliated with the Henry County Center for Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine in New Castle, Rolston said his first patient returned a year later to have her second knee replaced. “I figure that’s a testament to the device,” he said.
He added, “Smith & Nephew is the fourth largest orthopedic company in the world, so it’s been fun. I’ve met a lot of people along the way as surgeons visit our operating room for nearly every Deuce procedure. The most important thing this has done is to allow us to see patients recover easier, have less blood loss, and experience less pain than they would with a conventional total knee replacement.”
Rolston, who can now add “inventor” to his list of achievements, began his college career as an athlete. A pitcher for the Bradley baseball team from 1981 to 1985, he was co-captain his senior year, but always dreamed of a career in medicine. “I had a shoulder problem as a pitcher at Bradley, and orthopedics became a natural fit for me because of my experience with sports.”