Which One Is The Best?
Having a knee or hip replaced? There are a couple of options, and the best option depends mainly on two things: you and your doctor. In fact, according to an article on www.healthline.com, (“Guide to Knee Replacement Implants and Their Manufacturers”), there are more than 150 different knee replacement devices available. The best one for you will depend on your age, weight, anatomy, and activity level. And as far as your doctor goes, he/she may be better trained in the use of one product than another, may have better access to one particular type of device, and will of course be in a good position to make a medically sound choice depending on your individual circumstances. So there’s a lot to consider, but to narrow it down a little, there are basically two materials from which knee replacement joint components are made.
- Metal: mostly titanium or cobalt-chromium alloys. Both are inert so won’t interact with the body, but an allergy to nickel is a concern with the cobalt-chromium versions.
- Plastic: “The most common material used to produce plastic components is ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene,” again, according to healthline.com. This material is popular because it closely mimics the way a real knee moves.
There’s also a third, newer material, Tantalum, and ceramic parts can be used in the case of metal allergies. According to the article “Which Type of Implant is Right For You” on www.kneereplacementcosts.com tantalum is a key metal in a bone/metal mix called Trabecular Metal. This material is also very body friendly, and contains mesh that encourages natural bone growth around the implant.
As for a total hip replacement, the choices are similar, and according to www.bonesmart.org (“Hip Replacement Implant Materials”), there’s no real agreement within the orthopedic community regarding what’s best. There are four main combinations used:
- Metal/plastic (polyethylene or UHMWPE). This combination has been used in one form or another since the 1960s. It’s proven to be very durable and is also the least expensive option.
- Metal/metal (MoM). Even older than the metal/plastic, these have been used since the mid 50’s. These types will wear less quickly than the metal/plastic types.
- Ceramic/ceramic (CoC). These implants have been used in Europe since the 80’s, and were approved for use in the U.S. in the 90’s. The earlier ceramic implants had a problem with shattering, but this has been pretty much resolved. The only other issue with this type of replacement implant is that they may squeak (most of the time this will go away). It is however, the most durable and a good choice for a young or especially active recipient.
- Ceramic/plastic (UHMWPE). This is a highly durable combination, and while more expensive than the metal/metal versions, is less expensive than the ceramic/ceramic combinations.
Decisions, decisions. Lots of choices and things to think about. The bottom line, I think, is to research your options and work with your doctor to find the best one for you. She/he will know what’s available for your individual situation, what may and may not work, what training is required to perform that particular surgery, and if he/she has that training.
Written by: Tricia Doane, FizzNiche Staff WriterSharing is Caring!