Total Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee Replacement Implants for Women
Manufacturers are designing implants for a woman's body.
Women and Knee Replacement
In recent years, there has been a huge uptick in women receiving knee replacements. Women now account for over 60 percent of total knee replacements according to the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). This is, for the most part, because women experience higher rates of osteoarthritis than men. In fact, women make up the majority of the 4.5 million people in the U.S who are living with a total knee replacement (TKR). According to U.S. census data, 5.3 percent of all American women (compared to 4.1 percent of all men) over the age of fifty have at least one TKR.
Click “next” to learn about how knee implants for women differ from those for men.
Gender Anatomy Differences
The anatomical shape of a woman’s knee is different than a man’s knee. It’s generally less prominent and the femoral bone (thigh bone) is shaped differently.
Women’s hips and knees come together at a slightly different angle, which affects how the kneecap moves over the thighbone during movement. The contour of a woman’s knee is also different.
Female vs. Male Femoral Bone
Overall women have smaller knees. The female femur (thigh) boneis narrower and thinner than a man’s. Women also have a thinner ligament and therefore a thinner notch where the ligament resides. These are important factors a surgeon considers when selecting and installing an implant.
Traditionally, knee implants have been designed using “average” size data. This meant a choice of only two or three different implants that varied in size. Today, some manufacturers, such as Zimmer, offer artificial knees specifically designed for women. Manufacturers claim that these prostheses take into account and adjust for anatomical differences in women.
Implants Designed for Women
The design of most gender-specific knees is similar to a standard artificial knee. The primary difference is that the part that attaches to the thighbone—the femoral component—has a contoured shape, a thinner profile and is positioned at a slightly different angle than a conventional device.
Other Female Implant Differences
Manufacturers claim that gender-specific knee implants take into account certain differences in the way the female kneecap (patella) and thigh come together and, as a result, provide a more natural motion for women than other implants. Discuss any device you’re considering with your doctor.
Are Gender Specific Knees Better?
There’s no conclusive evidence that gender-specific artificial knees are more effective—though some surgeons and patients prefer them. Each manufacturer claims to offer different features and benefits. Your doctor will help you decipher the information and determine the right device for you. For every patient, male or female, the bone and the device must fit together properly. Consequently, the choice of an implant is based on the patient’s unique anatomy and needs.
Your Surgeon Knows Best
Your surgeon will advise you on the right artificial knee for your body and specific requirements. Your anatomy and activity level are major factors your surgeon will take into account when determining the device that’s best for you. In the end, the most important factor in a successful knee replacement is ensuring that you have an experienced surgeon with considerable experience fitting and performing artificial knees.