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The Evolution of Total Knee Arthroplasty

Total Knee Replacement or TKR has turned out to be one of the most important breakthroughs in the medical field in the 20th Century. The year 1968 saw the first Knee replacement being performed. Although, the surgery was rudimentary then, much progress has been made in the years since in both surgical materials as well as the techniques used by surgeons worldwide. This has led to significant improvements in the effectiveness of the procedure.

As per a leading study, in India, senior citizens are the leading group who suffer from some sort of bone and joint disorder and are in urgent need for joint replacement. Arthritis comes up as one of the most common cause for the requirements of total knee replacement in India. Arthritis and other disorders such as osteoporosis are commonly caused due to a sedentary lifestyle which is increasing among the Indian population due to a rise in office jobs. This seems to have increased the market for joint replacements in the country. Also, an uptick in the number of trained surgeons and modern hospitals have also increased the number of patients who resort to knee replacement surgeries to cure their joint troubles.

But, the beginnings of total knee arthroplasty were much more humble. A leading German Surgeon by the name of Themistocles Gluck is often credited as the first surgeon to use artificial hinge joints made out of ivory. The next significant advancement in the field came much later in the early part of the 1950’s when, a joint made from acrylic was introduced, called the Walldius joint. Then, in the later parts of the decade, the Walldius joint begun to be manufactured from a combination of chrome and cobalt, but unfortunately, it was prone to failing soon after the surgery.

The next decade brought the much-needed advancement in the field which can be credited with inspiring the modern total knee arthroplasty procedure. A doctor named John Chamley developed a cemented metal-on-polyethylene joint which brought a revolution in the field. Then, another doctor from the same hospital named Charnley designed a better, unhinged knee joint which boasted better stability and allowed for increased movement in the joint as per the flexion of the knee.

Then subsequent and incremental changes kept happening over the next few decades. The developments in materials, design, as well as manufacturing also enabled significant improvements in the stability and movement of knee joints.

Today advancements have paved the way for highly accurate measurements and sizing which when complemented with better instrumentation have led to highly superior joints with an increased range of motion and a much more lower wear & tear rate.

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