DENVER -- We all know Coloradans love to stay active, but that may cause problems for our knees down the road.
One orthopedic surgeon in Denver is offering an alternative to knee replacement surgery and performing a new meniscus replacement procedure as part of a trial.
Dr. Wayne Gersoff says meniscus implants restore function similar to that of a natural, healthy meniscus.
About 120 patients around the country are taking part of the study. Twelve people in Colorado had the procedure, including 58-year-old Kathleen Cohan.
"My favorite thing is backcountry skiing. I mountain bike, rock climb, a lot of hiking," said Cohan.
Cohan's right meniscus was giving her trouble. She said it held her back from doing her favorite outdoor activities.
The meniscus is like a small cushion in the knee joint. It helps absorb the shock, but it can be torn or damaged.
Cohan said she wanted to avoid a full knee replacement.
"Certainly a loss of meniscus tissue is probably one of the most common knee surgeries that's done in the United States," said Dr. Gersoff.
He performed the operation on Cohan. She was the first person in Colorado to have the implant.
"A total knee replacement is kind of bridge burning. Once you have that, you can't go backwards," said Dr. Gersoff. "Your activity is going to be significantly limited to try to make it last longer."
The implant procedure isn't on the market yet. The operation will need to get approved by the Federal Drug Administration.
But Cohan said her procedure was successful.
"I've not had any burning sensations at all. My knee feels nice and stable," Cohan said. "I've been able to be active enough now that I got my muscles where they should be. But basically, I can live the way I want to live now."
Dr. Gersoff has done about 12 surgeries and he said they've all reported to be successful.