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Total Knee Replacement Alternatives: Artificial Cartilage

Total knee replacement surgery involves a surgeon removing a patient’s deteriorating natural knee, cutting bone and tissues, and implanting an artificial knee. This is a highly invasive surgery with a considerably lengthy and painful recovery, even if everything goes according to plan.

advil-on-my-desk-294177-m.jpgTraditionally, total knee replacement was largely reserved for the elderly and those suffering a serious, debilitating knee injury. One of the reasons for avoiding total knee replacement on younger patients is most artificial knees have a useful life of around 10 years. When an artificial knee is implanted into a person who is expected to far outlive the artificial knee, the new knee will eventually break down, cause a patient pain, and require a second surgery to replace it with a newer model artificial knee. Again, this is when everything goes correctly.

However, as our Boston knee replacement injury attorneys know all too well, things do not always go according to plan.

To make matters worse, companies such as Stryker developed newer model artificial knees marketed towards younger patients by telling them they can lead a more active life, including running or jogging on a regular basis. Unfortunately, some of these new knees were pushed through FDA approval and rushed to market without adequate testing and warnings being provided to surgeons and patients. Many of these devices failed shortly after being implanted, have broken down or come loose, causing serious problems, or were implanted using defectively designed cutting guides.

Research shows total knee replacement has become so popular that it is estimated an artificial knee is implanted in a patient in the United States every 45 seconds, and even these astounding numbers are expected to jump 400 percent by 2030, totaling half a million total knee replacement surgeries each year, according to a recent article from U.S. News & World Report.

In an effort to provide less invasive options to younger patients who might not need a total knee replacement, researchers are working on artificial cartilage that can be implanted in patients to prevent arthritic natural cartilage. It is hoped this will decrease the need for total knee replacement and prolong a patient’s biological knee.

Researchers at The Ohio State University who are developing the artificial cartilage hope this will fill the gap between having some damage to the medial meniscus and a need for a total knee replacement. Currently, with no less invasive treatment for patients who fall into this category, medical device companies have been pushing for a total knee replacement, knowing it will eventually need to be replaced, and knowing there are serious design problems with some of the knees they are producing.

The reason artificial knee manufacturers are willing to take these risks is quite simple. There are billions of dollars to be made on total knee replacement surgeries, whether they are beneficial and necessary or not. To these companies, having a patient who will long outlive their product just means they have repeat customers for life. It is not like a patient can choose not to have a second surgery when their device ultimately fails.


Call the Boston Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Artificial Cartilage Could Protect Runners From Arthritis, Knee Replacements
, Feb. 27, 2015, U.S. News & World Report

More Blog Entries:

Knee Reconstruction Market to Exceed $5 Billion by 2020
, June 17, 2014, Boston Actos Injury Lawyer Blog