Over the past month in the UK, there have been several exciting advancements in the field of knee implant materials. Among the latest innovations are a unique polymer knee joint, and a 3D printed artificial knee.
Discover the latest cutting-edge developments in knee implant materials below, and what it could mean for patients in the future.
Polymer Knee Implants
Medical technology company Invibio has developed a ground-breaking artificial knee joint made entirely of polymer. It is believed to enhance the quality of life for those with osteoarthritis who require surgery.
Named PEEK-OPTIMA, this lightweight prosthesis contains no metal, a common component in traditional knee joints. Currently undergoing pre-clinical trials at the University of Leeds, researchers are optimistic that this all-polymer knee replacement will be an effective option for osteoarthritis patients. It will especially suit patients with metal sensitivities, and it closely resembles the natural weight of the joint for improved mobility.
3D Printed Artificial Knee
Researchers at the University of Bath have created an innovative 3D-printed implant. Known as tailored osteotomy for knee alignment, this novel implant is designed to preserve the existing knee joint, making surgeries more efficient and safer.
The 3D HTO plates are custom-made to realign the patient’s knee, offering enhanced stability, comfort, and weight-bearing capabilities compared to conventional plates. Doctors use X-rays and CT scans to determine the degree of correction needed. A 3D-printed surgical guide is then temporarily attached to the tibia using pins, which are then replaced by screws to form a wedge that rectifies the bone alignment.
A stabilising plate is added to complete the process. These HTO plates have undergone virtual safety testing using CT data, and received approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Smart Bone Implants
OSSTEC, a start-up from Imperial College, has secured funding to test its innovative smart bone implants in clinical trials. These implants are especially aimed at patients under the age of 65, who require a knee replacement to help them maintain an active lifestyle.
Traditional solid implants can hinder the bone’s natural healing process, as they don’t mimic the bone’s porous and dynamic nature. OSSTEC addresses this issue by employing 3D printing technology to create titanium structures that simulate the natural behaviour of bones. This porous nature also ensures a stronger bond between the implant and the bone, potentially enhancing performance and longevity.
The future of knee implants
More active lifestyles and a determination not to accept increasing discomfort and loss of mobility, is prompting more and more patients in their 50s and early 60s to seek help for worn-out knee joints. The material used for knee implants is therefore a key focus for future development as researchers aim to create an artificial replacement that closely mimics the behaviour of the natural joint combined with increased longevity.
Mr Jonathan Webb is at the forefront of employing cutting-edge techniques to help patients regain mobility and improve their quality of life, offering innovative and precise robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery.