Choosing a Knee Implant when You're 80 or SoWhen you turn 80 years old, you become an octogenarian. You may live another 10 or even 20 years! Studies show that on average people who reach 80 live another seven or eight years. At this stage of life, arthritis may affect the knees and hips, requiring joint replacement. More and more octogenarians are having total knee replacements. This makes it possible for researchers to study long-term results of joint implants in older adults.
A doctor at the Texas Bone and Joint Center looked at 110 patients who were 80 years or older. Everyone in the group had a total knee arthroplasty (TKA). After five years, 99 percent of the patients were still alive. The early results were good, with pain relief and improved motion for everyone.
Knee function after TKA is better in this age group compared to younger patients. There are several reasons for this. Older patients probably start out with more knee problems and are more likely to have other health problems. Thus, the improvements are measurably greater.
In octogenarians, the new joint implant holds up better with fewer problems than in younger patients. The authors of this study think low use and low demand on the TKA in octogenarians are the major reasons for the good results. However, 10 years after the operation, only 20 of the original patients were still alive.
The authors conclude that a standard TKA that lasts 10 to 15 years can be used in older adults. Newer, more expensive implants that are designed to last longer aren't needed. Less use of the knee and the potential for dying within 10 years makes the use of newer, more costly designs unnecessary for this age group.
Arul B. Joshi, MD, MCh(Orth), FRCS(Ed), et al. Knee Arthroplasty in Octogenarians. Results at 10 Years. In The Journal of Arthroplasty. April 2003. Vol. 18. No. 3. Pp. 295-298.
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