Knee Replacements Turn Back the Clock for Patients with Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

A recent study shows that knee replacement surgery may significantly improve pain and leg function in patients with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), thus improving their quality of life.

The surgery will not restore patients to the same level of comfort and mobility as they had in their younger years, but according to the Arthritis and Rheumatology journal reports that knee replacement can turn back the clock to when patients were less affected by pain.

In a six month study, researchers found, according to senior study author Kaleb Michaud, “The vast majority of patients had their symptoms improve dramatically from the surgery, but this procedure is not a cure – RA patients will continue to need to treat their disease outside of the joint replacement.”

Knee replacement is one of the most common surgeries, with about 720,000 people in the U.S. alone getting this procedure last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recently, there have been recalls of knee replacement products due to complaints of moisture on the instrumentation.

The surgery is much improved in recent years, with replacement knees made from a patient’s own cells. This replacement, NeoCart, is an investigational cartilage tissue implant to treat certain knee cartilage injuries. The proprietary procedure uses regenerative medicine technology to create hyaline-like cartilage tissue from a patient’s own cells.To generate the NeoCart cartilage tissue implant, a surgeon first obtains a small sample of normal cartilage from a patient’s knee through a minimally invasive arthroscopy, or “knee scope.” This small tissue sample, or biopsy, is then treated and placed under special conditions that allow for cell growth, organization and tissue formation. This allows the patient’s own cells to form a hyaline-like cartilage tissue implant before being returned to the surgeon for implantation.  The implant can be trimmed so that it fits the injury site (like a puzzle piece).

Francois Desmeules, a researcher in rehabilitation at the University of Montreal says, “Surgery can help people with severe pain and disabilities that don’t respond to alternative treatments such as weight loss, exercise, physical therapy and medication for osteoarthritis.”


(Image courtesy of Flickr user Kenny Holston, under a Creative Commons license.)