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How long does a total knee replacement last?

Jul 31, 2023 | Surgery

An update on the latest joint registry results

 

The knee is the largest joint in the body and carries almost half of your weight. You rely on it constantly. 

In a healthy knee, the joint is lined with cartilage, acting as a cushion and a smooth surface for easy movement. Arthritis destroys the cartilage, and also alters the bone surfaces and ligaments in the knee, making movement difficult and painful.

That can trigger discussions about a total knee replacement. And one of the questions that always comes up in those discussions is ‘How long does a total knee replacement last?’ 

 

Introducing the National Joint Replacement Registry 

The Australian Orthopaedic Association started a National Joint Replacement Registry in 1999. Since mid-2002, the Registry has received information from over 300 hospitals on almost all hip and knee replacements undertaken in Australia. That gives us a wealth of data regarding total knee replacements (TKRs). 

So, what does its latest report tell us?  

For starters, this data tells us there were 980,419 partial, total and revision knee procedures in 2021. The revision data is of most use when considering how long a TKR lasts. 

 

Revision rates

Joint replacement surgery seeks to relieve pain and restore function for as long as possible. Those prostheses with the lowest rates of revision over many years achieve this best. 

Revision surgeries (redo surgeries) are done when the original knee replacement has begun to fail. The Registry data assesses devices still currently in use (modern devices) but with a long history.

 

At 10 years

There are 42 modern TKR prostheses for which we have 10 years or more of data. Nineteen of the 42 prostheses (45.2%) are regarded as having a very good result 10 years after primary surgery.  

Revision rates for these prostheses range from 2.8% to 9.7%. That means 90.3%-97.2% of total knee replacements using these prostheses last 10 years or more. 

 

At 15 years

There are 28 modern TKR prostheses for which we have 15 years of data. Fourteen (50%) are regarded as having a very good result 15 years after primary surgery.

Revision rates for these prostheses range from 3.4%-11.8%. That means 88.2%-96.6% of total knee replacements using these prostheses last 15 years or more.  

 

At 20 years

There were 9 prostheses used in 2021 that have a 20-year history behind them. Revision rates range from 6%-10.5%. That means 89.5%-94% of TKRs using these prostheses lasted 20 years or more. 

 

Why does this data matter? 

Results will always vary depending on each patient’s overall health, the nature of the joint problem, the technique and the prosthesis.

Overall, though, the latest Joint Registry data shows significant success in total knee replacements. When a high-performing prosthesis is used, the vast majority of TKRs last a long time. That can deliver a new lease of life to many patients, few of whom will ever need revision surgery. 

This data gives us more confidence in the benefits of TKR and guides surgeons on the best choice of artificial joint.

 

How can we help? 

If you are experiencing persistent knee pain that limits your quality of life, please contact us

We can discuss the possible treatment options, including conservative management, partial knee replacement or total knee replacement, depending on your clinical needs. The decision to proceed with knee replacement surgery is yours and does not need to be rushed. In the right circumstances, though, it could help you enjoy greater comfort and mobility. 

 

Disclaimer

All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Dr Ross Radic can consult with you to determine if a particular treatment or procedure is right for you. A second opinion may help you decide on your options.