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Finn Knee System Recognized As Notable Orthopedic Innovation: Prosthesis Helps Save 12,000+ Limbs

Nov 17, 2008

Contact: Catherine Gianaro
(773) 564-7285

CHICAGO (Nov. 17, 2008)—The Finn Knee System, an orthopedic prosthesis that debuted in 1991 for limb salvage and difficult knee surgeries, was recently acknowledged by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) as one of the more notable orthopedic innovations of the 1990s. Henry Finn, MD, chief of orthopedic surgery at Weiss Memorial Hospital, medical director of the University of Chicago Bone and Joint Replacement Center at Weiss, and professor of surgery at University of Chicago, designed the implant.

“I am honored to be recognized as part of orthopedic history in this way,” Finn said. The Finn Knee System is highlighted in the October 2008 issue of AAOS Now, which chronicles orthopedic achievement in the 1990s—a decade marked by rapidly advancing technology. The record is part of the AAOS’ 75th Anniversary Celebration, which looks at more than 1,500 events in the 75-year history of orthopedics (

Harriet Hulbert of Park Forest, Ill., was the first patient to receive the Finn Knee in 1989, when it was still a prototype. At the age of 19 and eight months pregnant, Hulbert underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in her right knee. The entire joint had to be taken out. Finn then implanted the prosthesis with his namesake at the University of Chicago.

“I am grateful and blessed,” Hulbert said. “They could have amputated, but they saved my leg and my life.” Nearly 20 years later, Hulbert still walks with the original Finn Knee.

Sally Lewis of Chicago too has her original prosthesis in her left knee. “I’ve been blessed by technology,” Lewis said. “I could have lost my leg.” Then 56, Lewis received the Finn Knee in 1990 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital after seven inches of bone were removed to eradicate a malignant tumor discovered in her femur. Dr. Jeffrey Kneisl, orthopedic oncologist and medical Director of the Blumenthal Cancer Center at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., performed surgery on Lewis in Chicago nearly two decades ago and has done hundreds of other complicated surgeries using the Finn Knee System since then.

“The Finn knee was a significant leap forward in segmental oncology knee replacement when it was first introduced,” Kneisl said. “Over the ensuing 18 years, this novel and durable design has provided an effective limb salvage option to surgeons and patients throughout the world.”

According to the maker of the implant Biomet Inc., more than 12,000 patients in the United States have benefited from the Finn Knee System and what it evolved into in 2000—the OSS Orthopaedic Salvage System featuring the Finn Knee, a complete salvage revision/oncology limb-reconstructive system.

“Because of my dissatisfaction with what was available at the time, I developed this prosthesis,” Finn said. “It treats people with extensive bone and ligament damage as a result of, deformity, trauma, revision, infection or cancer that conventional knee replacement would not be able to accomplish.” Patients like Hulbert and Lewis are living proof that biomechanical advancements with orthopedic devices in the ’90s have led to salvaging knees and/or limbs of patients, restoring function for many years—much longer than expected.

The Finn Knee was also recognized as one of the most significant advancements in the field of orthopedics in the last century in the millennium edition of Orthopedics Today (January 2000).

Additionally, Finn has helped invent many other orthopedic prostheses: the Balance Hip, a cementless hip replacement that enables patients immediate weight-bearing on the hip; the Vanguard SSK Knee, a super-stabilized knee used in complicated and revisional knee surgeries; the Balance Microplasty Hip, used in minimally invasive surgery; and the OSS Salvage Cage, used for revisions in cases of catastrophic failure of hip-replacement sockets.