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What type of knee replacement implant is best?

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Updated May 27, 2014

knee replacement implant prosthesis

Which knee replacement implant is best?

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Question: What type of knee replacement implant is best?
There are many orthopedic manufacturing companies that produce different implants used in knee replacement surgery. Most of these companies make several different knee replacement prostheses. Is there a way to determine which knee replacement implant is best?
Answer: Asking orthopedic surgeons what knee replacement is best is like going to a car show and asking people which is the best car. You'll find lots of different answers, and each person thinks they've got the right answer.

One of the most important aspects of knee replacement surgery is determining the proper implant to be used in the operation. However, people disagree on what criteria are most important to select the best knee replacement implant.

  • Do you use the implant with the newest design, or the implant with the longest track record?

  • Does a surgeon use many different implants depending on each patient, or become most comfortable with one implant for every patient?

  • Should a surgeon use implants suggested or asked for by their patients?
Orthopedic supply companies have begun to advertise directly to consumers. The advertisements might make you believe that their implant has been shown to be better than other implants. This has been seen recently with 'gender-specific knee replacements' and 'rotating knee replacements.'

The truth is that no one know what the 'best' implant is. The ideal knee replacement implant will allow for normal activities, normal motion, and last the patient's lifetime. The only way to know if these goals will be met is to use the implant in people doing normal activities, and follow their results for decades. Therefore, implants designed recently do not have long-term track records that prove their longevity.

Bottom Line - What Knee Implant Is Best?

I recommend patients and surgeons select an implant that fits the following criteria:
  • Has a reasonable track record of use (minimum of 5-10 years)

  • The surgeon has used the implant before

  • Is appropriate for the patient's condition
If you have questions about a specific implant, ask your doctor about the knee replacement prosthesis. Ask your surgeon to compare it to the implant he or she usually uses. If you want more information about an implant, you can read more from the company web sites.

Sources:

Knee Implants American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Your Orthopaedic Connection. October 2007.

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