The best – and the worst – knee replacements have been revealed

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best UK knee replacements

Due to an ageing yet active population and a leap in technology, more and more people are being given knee replacements. Patients are understandably more concerned with the skill and experience of their surgeon, but there is also a range of different prosthetic implants that can be used. Now, a large-scale UK study has been carried out in the performance of different prosthetic implant combinations.

Unsurprisingly, what with the range of products, some knee replacements work better than others – and the recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol has looked into the quality and performance of the most commonly used replacements, concluding that certain brands of joint replacement have more than double the benchmark level of failure after ten years, while others are three times more likely to need replacing than their better counterparts.

However, the good news is that the vast majority of knee implants used by the NHS – 89% of them – are deemed to perform better than standard.

The research team compared different brands and models of implants, which were implanted into over 1.7 million British patients between April 2003 and December 2016 and tracked whether follow-up surgery was needed after the procedure. In particular, they were looking for the types of implant that exceeded a failure rate of 5% – the benchmark level set by both the NHS watchdog the National Institutes for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) ODEP – the Orthopaedic Data Evaluation Panel.

The joint last implants

After scouring the data, they found seven models which failed to make the cut – with the worst performer being the Preservation Unicondylar fixed knee replacement, which was used in 398 operations and had a failure rate of 15 per cent. The list in full:

  • Preservation Unicondylar (15%)
  • Oxford Partial Knee Unicondylar (11.54%)
  • MG Uni Unicondylar (10.03%)
  • AGC Uncemented (7.76%)
  • NexGen Cement (7.13%)
  • Rotaglide + Cement (5.61%)
  • Profix Cement (5.03%)

While the research revealed that knee replacements were more prone to failure than their hip counterparts, it also revealed that the majority of knee replacements used in the UK were far more durable.; 51 were below the 5% threshold, and 16 of them had failure rates lower than half the benchmark.

As a patient – or potential patient – what can you do to ensure you get the best shot of a long-lasting and successful knee replacement? After all, it’s not as if you can run your finger down a shelf and pick out the one you like. Your best defence – as with all surgical procedures – is to be fully prepped. Ask your knee surgeon which implant is being used, and definitely ask about its success rate.