Are you the type of shopper that does some research before purchasing or are you the type that just goes with your gut? In this computer age, product research is getting easier even for those that tend to leave things to chance. It seems like every major online store has costumer reviews for each product, but this type of information is not so readily available for medical products. So what do you do now that you have been told that you need a new knee? You could just be lead like a lamb to the operating room or you could really put some brain synapses together to come up with a plan that is right for you.
First, you’ll want to research the surgeons in your area. Insurance constraints might limit your choices just a bit. To start, ask for your plan’s list of orthopedic surgeons in your area. Go down the list to see if you recognize any names. Some friends, family members or other professionals might have mentioned a name or two to you in the past. If you don’t recognize any names, ask around. Next, you’ll want to look at the surgeons resume. Don’t be shy; many good doctors post their Curriculum Vitaes online. You could look at clinic websites for the individual doctors but those websites can be full of misleading information -- this is a business and money is to be made. And you may need to work backwards by choosing which knee implant you would like first and then finding a doctor who is most familiar with the product.
Once you have found the right surgeon for you, you’ll want to have some general knowledge about the available knee implants. Here is a list of terms that you will come across:
Non-constrained Knee: This knee is appropriate for someone who has good ligaments that will support the new knee.
Semi-Constrained Knee: People without a really good ligamentous support system need some built in support from this type of knee
Constrained Knee: Rarely used, this knee offers full, built-in stability; no ligaments required.
Mobile Platform: This newer type of knee implant offers more mobility and possibly a longer device lifespan for those who are really active or younger.
Fixed Platform: This type of knee implant is more appropriate for older, less active knee
High Flexion: People who kneel a lot or need a fully bending knee might want to consider this type of knee implant.
Cemented: The implant is fully cemented into place for a fast bond.
Cement-less: This implant relies on bone growth into the implant for adherence of the implant to the bone.
Hybrid: Part of this implant is part cemented and part of it is left for the bone to grow into it.
Now that you are primed with the lingo, it’s time to shop for a specific knee implant. You’ll see some ads on television and other media, but you’ll need to dig deep to get the real story about each of these knee implant manufacturers.
Styker: The “Get Around Knee” is the implant that they are really marketing lately. According to them, this knee allows for more natural movement. Well, that may be so but does it really improve your ability to do things or get around better than another knee implant? Probably not; what you really want to know about implants is the revision rate. How often and how soon does that implant fail enough to require a second operation? Styker has a recent recall on a hip implant because of its high revision rate. Their knee implant does not have the same problems because it is not a metal-on-metal device. But, this 2012 recall does leave one to wonder about the types of implants that Styker is marketing.