FDA Approves New Approach to Knee Replacement
Taking a Step Forward
Total knee replacement (TKR) is a highly successful approach to take on arthritis in that area, and according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, this procedure reduces pain by an average of 90 percent. A surgery that implants an artificial knee joint to replace the ailing one, this is a safe and effective option; complications are rare and a solid 85 percent of the prosthetics still work after 20 years. 
Still, there’s always room for improvement, and recently the FDA approved a new innovation: Medacta’s MK®Sphere – Kinematic Alignment instrumentation and surgical technique.  These are components of a new surgical system—the Medacta Individualized Kinematic Alignment (MIKA)—which considers the joint in three dimensions as opposed to the more traditional practice of mechanical alignment, which relies on two-dimensions.
If Medacta’s claims about the MK®Sphere are taken at face-value, then this represents a potentially very exciting advance in TKR. Let’s take a closer look at this technique and technology.
How Does It Work?
The goal of this approach is to restore natural, pre-arthritic function to the knee. This is done by resurfacing the ends of the major leg bones—the tibia and femur—prior to implantation of the prosthesis.  In applying a kinematic approach to this task, the thinking is that there will be improved restoration of mobility and function. Another benefit, according to Medacta, is that the MK®Sphere system allows for easy pre-surgical planning as well as the incorporation of newer tools to get the job done.
Ideally, this means that surgeons will have more information to work from as they approach TKR as well as better technology to work with. This means less impact during TKR as well as a more seamless incorporation of the prosthetic joint. According to Dr. Howell, an orthopedic surgeon who has practiced a version of this approach for many years and was a design consultant for Medacta, “The kinematic alignment technique has potential for faster recovery, quicker return to normal activities, overall, more comfort with the implant itself, and high long-term implant survival.” 
Having cleared the many hurdles involved in FDA approval, it seems that it won’t be long before you see the MK®Sphere techniques applied in the clinic.
Notably, there isn’t complete consensus among doctors about mechanical versus kinematic approaches to knee replacement. The latter is relatively new—the first time it was applied was in 2006 —and there are some concerns about whether it actually improves outcomes. One study by Dr. Raju Karuppal highlighted that there was scant, if any evidence, that kinematic approaches provided functional outcomes that are much better than traditional mechanical ones. However, Karuppal also noted “[k]inematically aligned TKA [is]… a superior alternative to the mechanically aligned TKA because it offers a better patient satisfaction and joint function.” 
Surely, as technologies like the MK®Sphere technique continue to develop, we’ll see continued improvement.
A Bright Future
While this technique is not yet a standard of practice, its approval as well as other ongoing research efforts and innovations will surely pay dividends. Knee arthritis will doubtless continue to be an issue—especially as baby boomers grow older—but you can rest assured that the means of taking it on today are highly effective and safe. The point being: knee pain is not destiny or a burden that simply has to be accepted. It’s something that you, with the right medical care at your side, can effectively manage.
The experts at Onward Orthopedics pride themselves in offering the latest and best in surgical approaches to knee arthritis or other issues. The philosophy of their practice is to ensure total patient comfort and satisfaction, and, as countless patients can attest, they’re highly successful in delivering results. Learn more about what they do by calling (800) 577-1693 today!
- “Knee Replacement Surgery Success Rate, Statistics, And Outcomes”. 2018. Healthline. Accessed November 16 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/total-knee-replacement-surgery/outcomes-statistics-success-rate.
- Alina Shrourou, BSc. 2018. “FDA Approves Medacta’S Two New Kinematic Alignment Options For Knee Replacement Surgery”. News-Medical.Net. Accessed November 16 2018. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20181101/FDA-approves-Medactae28099s-two-new-kinematic-alignment-options-for-knee-replacement-surgery.aspx.
- “Kinematic Vs. Mechanical Alignment: What Is The Difference?”. 2010. Com. Accessed November 16 2018. https://www.healio.com/orthopedics/knee/news/print/orthopedics-today/%7Bca0f9a6b-d1bf-4d84-8437-c324d5cc0ad9%7D/kinematic-vs-mechanical-alignment-what-is-the-difference.
- Karuppal, Raju. 2016. “Kinematic Alignment In Total Knee Arthroplasty: Does It Really Matter?”. Journal Of Orthopaedics 13 (4): A1-A3. Elsevier BV. doi:10.1016/j.jor.2016.10.001.