When medications, therapies and other conservative treatments don’t work for disabling knee arthritis, surgery is the next step to regain mobility. Doctors recommend knee replacement surgery when patients have constant pain or when their daily life is affected by poor mobility. A total knee replacement can get a patient back to work or back to a better quality of life. In India, most patients who undergo total knee replacement are between 60 and 80, but recommendations for these procedures are based on a patient’s pain and disability, not age.
Fearing a revision surgery later in their life and apprehensions on the effects of metal allergy, young patients often delay the surgery and continue to suffer silently.
At times, at the helm of their productivity, knee pain due to arthritis takes a toll on their professional life often leaving them physically and mentally drained. After surgery, they want early rehabilitation and pain-free mobility to keep them going.
With the advent of prosthesis made of oxidised zirconium which lasts more than 30 years, knee replacement is meeting the expectations of even the younger patients.
Another important characteristic of this material is that it is biocompatible, meaning that it is suitable for people who have nickel allergies and cannot have knee implants made of cobalt chromium alloy (because nickel is an ingredient of cobalt chromium alloy). Zirconium alloy implants eliminate the risk to nickelallergic patients because this new material contains no nickel. Besides, it is 20% lighter in weight as compared to cobalt-chromium implants. Implants made of oxidised zirconium are twice as hard as cobalt chromium alloys and provide half the friction, thus, performing with higher quality and lasting for a longer time.
These implants are durable owing to their hardness and high fatigue strength. It implies that these implants can withstand the sliding and rotating forces that a knee joint normally undergoes, during activities which is expected more in younger people.
The author of the article, Dr Shekhar Agarwal is chief surgeon and head of joint replacement surgery, Sant Parmanand Hospital, Delhi