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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson


Updated: Oct 1, 2019

Dr. Elliott Leitman displays what a knee replacement system looks like. Photo by Al Thompson

When you first meet Dr. Elliott Leitman and get to talk to him, the first thoughts that comes to mind are that this guy has integrity and passion with anything his does.

When you look at his background, you realize why those thoughts came to mind. Dr. Leitman works out of First State Orthopaedics in Newark Delaware.

He specializes in Sports Medicine, Arthroscopic joint reconstruction. Joint replacement surgery, General Orthopaedics, Shoulder, and Legal/Medical Exams.

Said Dr. Leitman: “Coming from a sports background, I guess a seed at some point was planted that I would end up in Orthopaedics.”

As a youth, he played football at Abington High School, playing linebacker and special teams. During his high school career he helped the Galloping Ghosts win the Suburban One Championship in 1982. He took that love of sports with him to his life's work in medicine.

Dr. Leitman has served as team doctor for a myriad of sports and teams.His resume includes Lincoln University, Caravel Academy, Avon Grove High School, Kennett High School. Maccabiah / USA Sports for Israel 2009/2013, Philadelphia Eagles 1997-1998, Philadelphia Flyers 1997-1998 and the Wilmington Blue Rocks 2007-2011.

Dr. Leitman said he is not able to get out on the sidelines like did years ago, but he still sees many student-athletes from the area, Dr. Leitman said the work that impacted him the most was when he served in the United States Army Reserves as a Lieutenant Colonel working on wounded soldiers coming back from Operation Enduring Freedom, the official name used by the U.S. government for the Global War on Terrorism.

On October 7, 2001, in response to the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush announced that airstrikes targeting Al Qaeda and the Taliban had begun in Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom primarily refers to the War in Afghanistan.

Dr. Leitman said he was in Israel working the Maccabiah games, and experienced life there. He was the Director Orthopaedic Clinic, TMC Mills, Ft. Dix, NJ. During Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003.

He said he understood why American soldiers have a tougher time when they return from war. The suicide rate for American soldiers is much higher than Israeli soldiers.

“In Israel, young people are accustomed to violence and war on every border,” Dr. Leitman said. “They grow up with it. Here we have nothing like that growing up. Going into war over there has much more an impact on American soldiers.”

An Animated look at the Oxford® Partial Knee replacement. Animation from

Back in 2014, Dr. Leitman wrote a column for the Philadelphia Inquirer about the advancement of robotic surgery: “Knee replacement: Can the robot save you?” In the column, Dr. Leitman seems to have a favorable stance on using robotic surgery.

Today, not so much.

Since then, Dr. Leitman says he has learned there is no advantage to using robots. Conventional surgical techniques are just fine.

Dr. Leitman: “With regards to robotics and other computer navigation systems which have been in the mainstream media or have been talked about, there has not been shown any clinical difference in outcomes using those aids versus traditional surgical measures.”

Is the doctor a traditionalists or is it just science to him|?

“I look at the data and the studies and try to go by that,” Dr. Leitman said. “I trained in robotics. And many of us who do this have trained in robotics but we've gone gone back, and there hasn't shown to be any difference. So we're going back to traditional surgical techniques.”

When asked if there are any orthopedic surgeries at all that robotics can help or do better than traditional surgery, Dr. Leitman simply said “No.”

Dr. Leitman does not want to perform total knee replacements unless it is absolutely necessary. He said that Orthopaedic surgeons today have been able to reduce full knee replacements to partial knee replacements in half.

Dr. Leitman points to the Oxford Knee, made by Zimmer Biomet as the state of the art partial knee replacement. Zimmer's website lists details on how the knee works:

“The Zimmer Biomet Oxford Partial Knee is a medial partial knee replacement system consisting of a femoral component, a tibial component, and a freely mobile meniscal bearing, featuring:

* Anatomical shape of tibial component for optimal bone coverage

* Conforming, spherical design minimizes contact stress throughout entire range of motion4

* Mobile bearing designed to remain fully congruent with femoral component throughout entire range of motion.

* Microplasty® Instrumentation for a reproducible technique”

“The partial knee replacement, probably 40 to 50 percent of the patients with arthritis who are candidates for total knee (replacement) would also be candidates for partial knee,” Dr. Leitman said. “The advantages of the partial knee are No. 1, the complicationary is much lower than for a total knee. No. 2, is that, by doing a partial knee we're only addressing the part of the knee that has the arthritic disease. We're keeping two-thirds of the knee bone and articular cartilage in place and we're also maintaining the central ligaments in the knee.

“So it's supposed to give a more natural feel to it because we're keeping the majority of the patient's own hard and soft tissue,” Dr. Leitman continued. “In addition, the rehab is faster, about half the patient time than a total knee.”

All sports get equal treatment at Dr. Leitman's office in Delaware. Photo by Al Thompson

Dr. Leitman said the average rehabilitation time for a full knee replacement could take up to a year, but not usually.

“I quote them about four to five months before they're feeling up to 90 percent normal,” Dr. Leitman said. “I think with a partial knee, it's about half that. It's also supposed to give them a natural feel because we're keeping most of the native tissue.”

To be clear, Dr. Leitman said that with a knee replacement there is no chance for a rejection by the body. “There's not a rejection,” he said. “But the complicationary and the overall complicationary rates are lower than with a total knee.”

There is no doubting Dr. Leitman's knowledge of the state of the art procedures in knee replacements. He has walked the walk as far as living in the trenches with people having joint problems who served in battle, battled on the playing field as well as ordinary active people and was able to provide relief.

And Dr. Leitman is a lifelong Eagles fan, “Of course I am.”

His favorite player growing up was Eagles Hall of Famer Wilbert Montgomery. How can you go wrong? *

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