By Cherri Gregg


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MARLTON, N.J. (CBS) — A South Jersey health care chain has agreed to change its advertising that says its innovative knee-replacement technique results in faster recovery.

You’ve probably seen or heard the advertisements for Virtua’s “quad sparing” knee replacement surgery on TV, radio, or online.  In one radio ad, a patient can be heard cackling following his surgery.

“He’s off his walker,” explains an actress portraying his wife.  “They don’t cut the quad [quadriceps] tendon, so he recovered sooner.”

Rothman Institute, a competing orthopedic surgery company, complained about the ads, arguing clinical research does not support Virtua’s claims.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus pressed Virtua for the change, saying there’s not enough evidence supporting the ads’ claims.

The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the BBB agreed, and Virtua was asked to scale back its advertisements.

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“We’re disappointed in the decision, but we will modify our ads accordingly,” says Virtua chief clinical officer John Matsinger, who adds that Virtua still stands by the accuracy of its claims that their patients have better outcomes based on empirical data.

“We do believe that our patient satisfaction has remained at the 99th percentile for the last eight quarters,” he said.   “The NAD did note that our VJRI (Virtua Joint Replacement Institute) patients did experience a better outcome, but (said) there could be many reasons for that.”

Matsinger says the quad-sparing technique is a fairly new method of knee-replacement surgery, so Virtua will be participating in clinical studies to validate the claims.  He says they will continue to perform the surgery and expect similar result.

In an e-mail statement, Rothman said it agrees with the NAD’s decision.

Virtua performs about 1,200 knee-replacement surgeries each year.

(Full disclosure: Virtua advertises on KYW Newsradio.  Other than as noted above, the company had no input into this news story.)

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