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MEDICAL AND DENTAL CARE ABROAD

KNEE REPLACEMENT IN POLAND

Jacek Laskowski, MD

Carolina Medical Center is one of the few centers which perform knee replacement operations using the latest technology developed by Smith & Nephew. The treatments use a prosthesis made of Oxinium, an alloy with the highest biocompatibility known to modern science.

Osteoarthritis of the knee joint occurs in the progress of cartilage damage in the joint and the damage to subchondral structures. Often it is referred to as the "wear and tear" degeneration and it is most common in middle-aged and older people, but it can occur at any age.

The causes of degenerative changes are not fully understood. We know that there are factors that increase the susceptibility of the organism to this ailment, including: obesity, muscle weakness and atrophy, hereditary factors, injuries that previously took place, a history of childhood diseases, multiple repetitive movements and, finally, aging.

There are many non-invasive treatments that can reduce the sensation of pain in the knee and relieve inflammation – a change in lifestyle or a pharmacological treatment. At times, it is recommended to wear an orthosis for stabilisation of the knee. However, if none of the above treatments produce satisfactory results, a surgical intervention is necessary.

Depending on the degree of damage to the articular surfaces, the following are used:

  • arthroscopy – a minimally invasive procedure designed to clean the joint cavity of inflammatory elements and to possibly repair the damaged cartilage;
  •  unicondylar knee arthroplasty (eg. ACCURIS);
  •  total knee arthroplasty (eg. GENESIS II).

In the treatment of its patients, the Carolina Medical Center uses the latest technologies and methods available on the market. Employed in procedures of this type are the Accuris and Genesis prostheses made from a material called OXINIUM, which is unique in terms of its parameters and properties.

OXINIUM is an alloy of two metals: zircon (representing 97.5%) and niobium (2.5%). Both these metals are highly biocompatible, and hence very well tolerated by the body. Development of OXINIUM took over 10 years. This material combines the advantages of ceramics (smoothness) and metal (strength). This alloy has a uniform molecular structure, but in the production of the implants, the technique of oxygen absorption by zirconium is used, which changes its surface from a metallic one into ceramic. Owing to that, it becomes extremely hard and indelible, while being also resistant to cracking and scratching.

Of the three above-mentioned materials widely used in modern prosthetics, OXINIUM is characterised by the highest possible tolerance by the body (biocompatibility). Although cobalt-chrome surfaces are highly resistant to pressure, over time, the prolonged contact with the polyethylene components of the prosthesis, causes them to get eroded to a greater extent than OXINIUM. Owing to the high surface smoothness, in the latter case, a reduction of abrasion by approx. 85% was recorded. Implants made of OXINIUM can additionally be used in combination with a special lubricant material, which is an extremely durable, highly cross-linked plastic.

A ceramic prosthetic head, in contrast to a cobalt-chrome head, has a nearly indelible surface; however, it presents a different type of hazard. Ceramics are very fragile, and, therefore, the ceramic heads can sometimes break as a result of increased load. Since in the case of OXINIUM we are dealing with a metal, this risk has been eliminated.

OXINIUM is a solution for people with allergies and those allergic to metals (including, for example, nickel). Thanks to the raw materials used, OXINIUM prostheses are almost completely devoid of nickel and, thus, safe and well tolerated by the human body.