One of the most important things you will want to discuss with your selected Knee Surgeon is to Choose of the Right Knee Implant. There is most certainly no single “best prosthesis” on the market. The choice of prosthesis may not be left entirely to the patient, but it is still very important to understand which prosthesis your surgeon recommends and why.
In the vast ocean of knee implant options available, there is one which is the most suitable for you, which will help you lead a happier, healthier lifestyle. This article will help you in choosing that one life altering right knee implant.
Before understanding the types of implants available, you should know…
What are we replacing during a complete knee replacement surgery?
The major components which are replaced in a complete knee replacement surgery are as follows :
- Femoral component: This is the part that attaches to the thigh bone. It is the largest component. It has a curvy shape.
- Spacer: A spacer is fitted in between the femoral and tibial component. The spacer provides flexibility to the knee joint and helps in bending and flexing the knee.
- Tibial component: This is a flat component which replaces the top part of the shin bone. It has a groove which allows the movement of kneecap up and down on the bending and straightening of the knee joint.
- Patellar component: Required only on a case to case basis, it is a dome shaped component which replaces the kneecap.
Materials used for the implants
All these implant components are categorized based on the material used, the kind of flexibility they offer, the material used to hold the implants together and based on brands.
Seems overwhelming, right? Let’s take a look at them one at a time.
Implants based on material
The most commonly used implants are made of metal alloys, ceramic or plastic.
- Metal alloy Implants: These implants are made of metals like Cobalt-Chromium or Titanium. They are biocompatible and durable. However, these are best avoided if you have metal skin allergies. Conveying to your doctor about the allergies is extremely important. Some experienced surgeons also use ‘gold knee implants’. This implant can be safely used for people who have metal allergies.
- Ceramicised Material/Coated Implants: These implants provide a natural feel to the knee joint after replacement. The wear and tear of a ceramic joint is minimal as compared to a metal one. Also, since they do not contain Nickel or Chromium so they are an ideal choice for metal allergy patients.
Implants based on design
- Fixed bearing Implants: Most of the knee replacements are fixed bearing ones. They don’t provide much flexibility. They are most suitable for elderly patients who do not have too active a lifestyle. Too much movement can result in wear out as the implants are not that flexible.
- Mobile bearing Implants: This kind of a design allows for limited rotation of the knee joint. It has a groove which fixes to the tibial component which helps it twist. This kind of design is best for youngsters and elders who have a physically active lifestyle.
Implants based on affixing material
There are two kinds of techniques involved in fixing the implants to the knee. They are:
- Cemented joint: In this case, the implants are fixed to the knee bone using fast drying cement. There is a possibility of breakdown of the cement which can lead to failure of the surgery.
- Non-cemented joint: In a surgery involving non-cemented joint, a provision is left for the natural bone to grow. The bone attaches itself to the implant. It’s best used for youngsters whose bones are of good quality and grow faster.
Implants based on Preservation/ substitution of the posterior cruciate ligament
If the ligament can support an artificial knee, the surgeon may leave the posterior cruciate ligament in place when implanting the prosthesis. The artificial joint used is “cruciate-retaining” and generally has a groove in it that accommodates and protects the ligament, allowing it to continue providing knee stability. Preserving the cruciate ligament is thought to allow for more natural flexion.
Implants based brands
There are hundreds of brands of implants available in the market today. Each brand has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Now that you are aware of the different options available for deciding on the implant, let me tell you what you actually need to consider!
The newer the implant the better it is?
No, not really. Rather than deciding on the right knee implant based on how new it is, you should look for data on how successfully the implant has worked. How many years it has been since it’s being used and what’s the success rate. Tried and tested is always better in life changing matters like these, right?
Should I go for customizable, gender specific or High Flexion implants?
Well, again. These might work really well for some people and might not work at all for some. Consider all options but the make a decision based on what your doctor suggests.
The only choice you need to make- The right doctor!
Yes, this is the most important choice you should make. If you have the best doctor at your side, he will inform you about the implants most suitable for you. Your surgeon will consider your age, weight, lifestyle and severity of joint damage as well as your gender and/or your stature and the surgeon’s own experience before making a recommendation or choice as to which prosthesis might be the right one for you.
Bottom Line – How to choose Right Knee Implant?
So, it’s essential for every patient to not believe in everything said other than their doctor’s because Google cannot be a replacement of the healthcare industry. Today’s implants are increasingly sophisticated and safe. They’re paving the way for millions of people to enjoy a healthier and more active life. Talk with your surgeon to determine what is best for your specific needs.