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Monday, August 29, 2005 - Minimally Invasive Orthopedic Surgeries at the SJH Regional Medical Center

VINELAND, NJ (August 29) - John Pustizzi, a 58-year-old resident of Newfield, knows how uncomfortable it is to live with joint pain. After two arthroscopic surgeries for a work-related injury to his right knee ten years ago, performing even simple daily routines was becoming very painful.

“I was getting by but eventually it became hard even to walk,” said Pustizzi. “The pain was there every day and I knew I had to do something to get better.”

That’s when his physician advised him about total knee-replacement surgery using new, minimally invasive surgical techniques at the South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center .

During traditional knee replacement surgery, lost cartilage and worn out surfaces of the knee are replaced with a prosthesis through an 8 to 10 inch incision. Using minimally invasive techniques, total knee replacements can now be performed through smaller incisions 4 to 6 inches in length. This surgery causes less damage to the surrounding tissue and muscle, reducing the patient’s post-operative discomfort and facilitating a faster recovery.

“Performing surgeries with smaller incisions is the wave of the future,” said Dr. Per Montero, SJH Chairman of Surgery. “It offers less morbidity, less opportunity for infection and faster recovery times for patients.”

Pustizzi, who works as a sheet metal mechanic, looks forward to getting back to a normal routine at work. But most of all, he wants to return to his favorite physical activities, hunting and hiking.

“I worked very hard at my physical therapy and my doctor says that my rehabilitation is moving along very quickly,” said Pustizzi. “I felt some pain in the beginning but the constant pain I experienced before the surgery is gone. I was walking on my own four weeks after my surgery and getting stronger every day.”

The SJH Regional Medical Center has been offering minimally invasive orthopedic procedures to patients for nearly two years. The technique can be used for knee, hip and shoulder replacement surgeries.

Montero feels that providing the latest minimally invasive surgeries locally will benefit many people in the region.

“Patients who go to Philadelphia hospitals for this procedure will travel a long distance and their attending surgeon may not be performing the surgery,” said Montero. “At the Regional Medical Center, our patients receive surgery from board-certified orthopedic surgeons with follow-up from their family physicians, all right here in the community.”

Pustizzi is very pleased with the results of his minimally invasive knee replacement and feels that his quality of life will continue to improve.

“I’m very thankful that I made the decision to get this surgery,” said Pustizzi. “I’m getting around 100% better than I was and with a lot less pain.”

SJH is a nonprofit, integrated health care system, providing access to a continuum of health services. SJH provides hospital services, numerous community health clinics, home health services, and specialty services, which serve the medical and health care needs of Southern New Jersey residents.