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DANVILLE -- Is it better for an obese individual to have weight loss surgery before a total knee replacement? Christopher Still (right), D.O., director of Geisinger’s Obesity Institute, is leading a study involving research teams at five of the nation’s more prominent medical centers to find out.

“It’s an important question. By performing weight loss surgery before total knee replacement surgery, individuals may have a faster recovery and, for some individuals, the need for knee surgery may be delayed or even eliminated,” explains Dr. Still.

To find the answer, Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. has awarded Geisinger $4.7 million. The grant funds a multi-year clinical study that will involve a collaboration between Geisinger’s Obesity Institute, Orthopedic Institute, and Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery Department. In addition, Geisinger will partner with clinical research teams at Cleveland Clinic-Florida, Stanford University, New York University, and the University of Virginia. The study, known as the SWIFT Trial, is expected to begin enrolling patients in December. “This is the first controlled study that will investigate the health outcomes of undergoing weight loss surgery before total knee replacement surgery,” explains Dr. Still, the principal investigator. Geisinger co-principal investigators include Dr. Michael Suk, Director of Geisinger’s Orthopedics Institute, and Dr. Anthony Petrick, Director of Geisinger’s Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery Department.

“Obese individuals are more likely to require knee replacement decades before an individual of normal weight because extra weight adds wear and tear on the joint,” notes Dr. Still. “And as the percentage of obese individuals increases, more people are candidates for total knee replacement surgery.”

“The biggest goal of this trial is to come up with a new approach that allows us to make total knee replacement safer and more successful for our patients,” adds Dr. Still.

If you think you may be a candidate for the trial, talk to your doctor.

The study is funded by Ethicon Endo-Surgery Inc. grant #26695.

About Geisinger
Geisinger is among the nation’s leading providers of value-based care, serving 1.2 million people in urban and rural communities across Pennsylvania. Founded in 1915 by philanthropist Abigail Geisinger, the non-profit system generates $10 billion in annual revenues across 134 care sites - including 10 hospital campuses, and Geisinger Health Plan, with 600,000 members in commercial and government plans. The Geisinger College of Health Sciences educates more than 5,000 medical professionals annually and conducts more than 1,400 clinical research studies. With 26,000 employees, including 1,600 employed physicians, Geisinger is among Pennsylvania’s largest employers with an estimated economic impact of $14 billion to the state’s economy. On March 31, 2024, Geisinger became the first member of Risant Health, a new nonprofit charitable organization created to expand and accelerate value-based care across the country.  Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X.


About the Massachusetts Medical Society
The Massachusetts Medical Society, with more than 25,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society, under the auspices of NEJM Group, publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and Journal Watch alerts and newsletters covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education providing accredited and certified activities across the globe for physicians and other health care professionals. Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country. For more information please visit,, or

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