Saint Joseph Mercy Health System First in Michigan to Offer Knee Surgery Cooling Treatment


Pontiac-based St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, a member of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, is the first hospital in Michigan to offer a new cooling treatment to knee replacement patients that freezes the nerves surrounding the knee.

Through use of a handheld device, surgeons can use Iovera to provide pre-surgical treatment that gives patients immediate and lasting pain relief throughout surgery, post-surgery, and rehabilitation.

“I am now able to target a patient’s nerves in a way that had not been possible before for surgeons,” says Safa Kassab, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee replacements at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland.

As a result of the treatment, he says patients can begin rehabilitation sooner and recover faster.

The effect of the cold on the nerves is temporary and does not cause permanent damage, as it leaves the structural components of the nerves intact. The nerves are restored to function after several months, after the knee replacement surgery and rehabilitation period.

According to Kassab, nearly 700,000 knee replacement procedures are performed annually in the United States. This number is projected to increase to 3.48 million procedures per year by 2030.

He says the new pre-surgical treatment provides surgeons and anesthesiologists with a non-narcotic alternative to more traditional approaches to pain management such as steroid injections and the use of strong opioids.

“Limiting opiate use in pain management is gaining more and more favor among surgeons due to addiction concerns,” Kassab says. “I can now reduce or eliminate these addiction risks for many of my patients by using this new, innovative method of pain management.”

With annual operation revenues of nearly $1.9 billion, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System is a health care organization that serves seven counties in southeast Michigan, including Livingston, Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Jackson, and Lenawee.