Reshaping the future of knee replacement for women

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First device made for women is available at OSF Saint Anthony

From the cells in their bodies to their taste in clothes, it’s no surprise that women are different from men. In fact, research shows women and men are different all the way down to their knees.

Even so, it was May of 2006 before the first knee implant designed around distinct and important differences between women’s and men’s knees received approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

“A woman’s knee is not simply a smaller version of a man’s knee. The differences involve the bones, ligaments and tendons in the joints,” says Michael Chmell, M.D., of Rockford Orthopedic Associates and independent physician on the active staff of OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. “Women can wear men’s shoes, but most prefer shoes made for them. That’s because women are shaped differently than men. It’s the same with knees.”

The need for a device designed for women is significant. Nearly two-thirds of the more than 400,000 annual knee replacement surgeries are performed on women, and the number increases each year.

A new shape and size

The Gender Solutions High-Flex Knee implant is narrower and proportioned to a woman’s anatomy. Traditional implants are often too wide, leading to the implant overhanging the bone and potentially pressing on surrounding ligaments and tendons, possibly causing pain.

The bone in the front of a woman’s knee is typically less prominent. As a result, when a traditional implant is used, the joint may end up functioning better, but still feel “bulky” and reduce the range of motion, says Dr. Chmell.

And, the angle between the pelvis and the knee is different in women and men. Previous implant designs may tend to track at an angle that leads to a woman’s knee feeling “unnatural” as it moves.

Another advantage

The surgical technique used to implant the Gender Solutions High-Flex Knee usually results in smaller scars, shorter hospitalization and quicker rehabilitation and recovery than traditional knee replacement surgery, says Dr. Chmell.

Dr. Chmell will present a free education event regarding women’s knee replacement options from 7 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 15, in the Foundation Room at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. Seating is limited. To reserve seats or to get more information, call Rockford Orthopedic Associates at 398-9491.

From the Nov. 8-14, 2006, issue

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