• Can snotty molecules make total knee replacements less invasive?

    If you are a candidate for total knee replacement surgery, you know the surgery is anything but routine. Surgeons break out the power tools, literally, to saw off the end of your femur and tibia. This is followed by drilling holes into the bones in order to glue and hammer into place the metal surfaces that replace these parts of your joint. Between the two surfaces is a plastic piece that takes the place of your meniscus.

    A good animation video for total knee replacement can be found here. The life of these artificial joints used to be around 10 years. New technology is increasing the life of these artificial joints.

    Running on these replacement joints is discouraged.

    A new option is on the horizon. Colorado State University mechanical engineering department head, Susan James, is the lead inventor in a new BioPoly device. This device is similar to thumb tacks that can be inserted into the knee without removing big portions of bone.

    The secret to the thumb tacks is the molecules used on the surface – hyaluronan. The human body is full of these slimy, mucus-like molecules, making it less likely the body's immune system will reject the material.

    The first human implants were done in January of 2012, in Europe.

    With a minimally invasive surgery and a relatively fast recovery time, BioPoly looks very promising. Though not mentioned in any of the literature I reviewed, I wonder if it is possible to run with these implants?

    More information can be found here, including a link to an animated video.

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