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BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
health world

Benefits of gender-specific products might not extend to knee implants, study suggests

August 18, 2010
  • Those knee implants may be made for a woman, but the ones strong enough for a man appear to do just fine.
Those knee implants may be made for a woman, but the ones strong enough for… (Guillermo Legaria / AFP…)

Women considering a knee replacement might naturally think that a prosthesis designed specifically for the female body would be a better fit than a unisex product, leading to more favorable results,  higher satisfaction  and, overall,   the most of what a new knee has to offer. That's not necessarily so.

Researchers studied 85 women who had knee-replacement surgery in both legs. Such double surgeries were probably far from pleasant for study participants, but undeniably useful from a research prospective -- because all of the women received a standard prosthesis in one knee and a gender-specific prosthesis in the other knee.

Two years after surgery, knee scores (a way to assess knee-replacement results), ranges of knee motion, patient satisfaction all were pretty much the same.

Here's the abstract of the gender-specific implant study, as published in the Aug. 18 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, and the plain-language explainer from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

The researchers point out that, you never know, maybe long-term followup will show some benefit.

Here's a roundup of information on knee replacement (knee arthroplasty for the more precise) from Medline Plus. Check out the videos -- and the total knee replacement exercise guide. It's good to know what to expect.

WebMD offers a specific look at women's knees and About.com offers this explainer of gender-specific knee-replacement implants.

Last updated in January, it seems a bit prescient in August:

"Should I ask for a gender-specific implant? It is clear that orthopedic implant companies are looking for ways to distinguish themselves. Sometimes solutions are created for problems that don't necessarily exist. Only time will tell if a gender-specific implant is actually a better, or worse, implant design. However, nothing suggests that it is an important determinant of a patient's satisfaction or outcome following joint replacement surgery."

-- Tami Dennis / Los Angeles Times

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