When knee replacements began to be used in the early ‘70s it was the common thinking that they would last maybe 10 years before needing to be replaced. For this reason, knee replacements were commonly only used for elderly patients. Over the years, there have been huge technological advancements in a wide variety of areas. Even though many improvements have occurred in surgical technique alone, it is not the only area which has undergone major changes. For instance there have been many improvements and advancements in the materials, design and fixation which have occurred which all work together to increase the durability of any type of joint replacement. In some patients, an orthopedic surgeon placed the knee prostheses as long ago as 30 to 40 years. But how long a knee replacement lasts varies greatly from one patient to another depending on many factors. Continue reading
In the United States alone there are around 200,000 total hip replacements and almost 500,000 total knee replacements each year. Most experts estimate that by the year 2030 it is likely that we could see 600,000 hip replacements a year and nearly 3 million total knee replacements. Overall, orthopedic surgeons in NJ have made total joint replacement one of the most successful modern surgical procedures. Part of this success is due to the constant improvements being made in both technological surgical techniques and the advancement of materials that are used to construct the new joints. The most recent developments in techniques and instrumentation help make joint replacements successful.
Latest Materials being used for Joint Replacements
Over the years there have been a wide variety of materials used to construct the components that make up joint replacements. Orthopedic surgeons have used precious metals, ivory, glass, Teflon, and several different types of synthetic materials. After years of experimentation and research, there are three materials which are typically used in joint replacements: ceramics, metal or polyethylene. Each of the joints wear in different ways and therefore different materials are used depending on the particular joint.
Materials Used for Hip Replacements
The hip is a ball and socket joint which is under stress as a result of rotation. Polyethylene is a specially designed plastic that has been used for years in hip replacement surgeries. The trouble was that with wear and tear a lot of damaging debris could make life difficult for the patient and require extended care to correct. The last few years have brought about changes in the design of the hip joint and the polyethylene is upgraded and constructed using radiation which creates a higher density. This helps decrease the wear and tear on the joint and keeps debris from forming. The size of the ball has also been changed in order to further the implants longevity.
Advancements in Knee Replacements
The knee is a different type of joint and one that is hinged. The use of the latest advancements in polyethylene are presently being used in some knee replacement surgeries, but it is still in the state of transition since what works in the ball and joint socket of the hip wears differently in the knee. Ceramic has been one of the main materials used in knee replacement procedures in order to use less metal in their construction. The trouble is that it has to be cemented in place. Having moveable parts helps to reduce the amount of wear on each of the knee components. Right now metal on metal components are being studied and it is certain that more changes are coming in the near future.
Shoulder Replacement Advancements
The shoulder is a completely different type of joint replacement procedure as it is a joint that does not have to bear any weight. Even though the shoulder joint is similar to a ball and socket, it does have more sliding action that what the hip has. The wear and tear of the shoulder comes from activity rather than weight bearing. The latest advancements in shoulder replacements include using metal components on plastic components. The improved quality of polyethylene helps to improve the mobility of this joint as well as ensuring the replacement surgery is long lasting. Presently there are many newly discovered design changes which are helping to decrease bone loss due to surgical procedures, increase the stability of the shoulder post surgery and helps to extend the wear and tear of the various components which make up the shoulder replacement joint.
What do these changes mean?
Over the last few years the latest advancements in both materials and techniques has helped to improve the success rate of the different surgeries. Presently, joint replacement surgeries are successful over 90% of the time. They are also slowly increasing how long the new joint lasts and it is expected that with the latest advancements this is only going to improve.
There are several types of joint replacements that are commonly performed. Board certified surgeons can perform hip replacements, knee replacements, and shoulder replacements. These are the most common types of replacements but finger, toe and elbow joints can also be replaced. Most of the time, a joint is replaced to increase a person’s mobility and improve function. What type of joint replacement is used will depend largely on which type of joint is being replaced; and the types of movements that are required from the joint. There are several different arthroplastic replacements that are available. Continue reading