If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia can you still have a knee replacement? And if so, how will your condition affect the way your knee surgeon carries out the operation? Yorkshire Knee Clinic’s Dave Duffy explains.
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones. It is preceded by osteopenia, a gradual decrease in bone density that can often (but does not always) lead to osteoporosis. Typically, osteoporosis affects the older generation. Often, although certainly not always, it is the older generation who are affected by osteoarthritis too.
A partial or total knee replacement is the proven treatment for addressing the pain of osteoarthritis, but a knee replacement requires an implant, and that implant needs to be anchored to the bone. So if your bone is losing density, how does that affect your knee replacement?
Building stronger foundations
Happily, neither osteoporosis nor osteopenia affects a knee surgeon’s ability to perform a successful replacement, although it may influence practical changes to the operation.
A knee surgeon wouldn’t typically check for osteoporosis where none has been previously identified, but where there is an existing diagnosis, or where an x-ray raises concern over the quality of the bone, the surgeon will choose to ‘dig the foundations deeper’.
Every knee replacement needs an interface – a connector – between the bone and the implant. Usually, that interface is a form of medical cement. If I’m worried that a bone may not be strong enough to hold the standard arrangement of implant and cement, I’ll use a longer implant which gives the fixing greater support.
It won’t affect the quality of the knee replacement, but it will help to ensure that the implant is as secure and lasts as long as it would in a patient for whom osteoporosis is not an issue.
If you have osteoporosis and are worried about its effect on your knee replacement, talk to us now.
Symptoms of, treatment & support for osteoarthritis sufferers
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon & District NHS Foundation Trust
“Mr Duffy is a wonderful knee surgeon but he’s a very approachable guy as well… That makes a huge difference.”