Knee implant that aims to keep you active

05 February 2018

The BioPoly knee implant is a treatment option for younger people who want to maintain an active sporting life once they have been treated for localised knee arthritis but who also want to avoid a total or partial knee replacement.

The implant, which can be fitted through a small incision, is made from plastic and hyaluronic acid, a natural lubricant made by the body, and carries out the functions of normal cartilage.

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Jamie Arbuthnot talks about the implant and explains why it is growing in popularity. 

Q: How does a BioPoly implant differ from a partial knee replacement? 

A: A full knee replacement is a significant operation and a very good option for the treatment of end stage arthritis whereas a partial replacement offers a smaller operation with lower risk of infection and a “more normal feeling” knee.

If the partial knee replacement wears out with time, it is usually easier to “re-do” a new replacement than it would be after a full replacement.

However, the BioPoly procedure takes this one stage further. It is a micro-replacement, designed to treat early break-down of cartilage by replacing only the damaged area (normally between the sizes of a 5p or 10p piece), leaving the rest of the knee intact and untouched.  

Q: What benefits are patients likely to see after a successful BioPoly procedure? 

A: The pain from the cartilage damage normally improves significantly and exercise can be resumed. Treating the cartilage defect should slow down the progression of arthritis in the knee or potentially even halt it. 

Q: Are certain patients more suitable than other for the procedure? 

A: Patients who are suffering knee pain but who still have most of their natural knee structure in place. The more of the natural, healthy knee we can preserve then, on most occasions, the better the patient outcome. The knee needs to be well aligned and if it is not then this may need to be corrected. 

Q: Is there a difference in recovery times between the BioPoly and partial replacement? 

A: Although the surgery to carry out a BioPoly replacement is much smaller than a partial or standard knee replacement, there is still a significant recovery period. Most patients walk out of hospital the same or following day without the need for walking aids, but the surgery still takes some weeks or even months to fully recover from.  

Q: Are there still occasions where a total or partial replacement is more beneficial to the patient – if so why?

A: Some people will present with a knee so badly worn or damaged that a total replacement is the only viable option. This isn’t as terrible as it sounds – total replacements are still very good and certainly don’t mean the end to physical activity for a majority of patients. Partial replacements are also very successful so people shouldn’t worry too much if the surgeon thinks that either of these is the best treatment option. 

Q: How long does a typical BioPoly operation take? 

A: A key-hole (arthroscopic) inspection to check that the knee is in good condition, is a sensible procedure. After that the operation itself takes about 45 minutes. 

Q: If the operation is a success and the patient follows a course of physiotherapy, what levels of sporting activity can they expect to achieve. 

A:  A lot of it depends on the age and level of fitness of the patient before the operation. Non- contact sports such as tennis and golf should be easily achievable by the right sort of people but others may even return to sports such as football or hockey.

Q: How quickly could I have a consultation, and how much would it cost? 

A: It depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted to see, but we pride ourselves on getting you fast access to diagnosis and you can often get a consultation within 24/48 hours. Initial consultation fees vary by consultant, but between £175-£250 is a reasonable guide. 

Q: If I need surgery, how quickly could I have it? 

A: We have no waiting lists at Spire Parkway, but again it depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted, but as a guide, and subject to your pre-operation assessment, between one and two weeks.

Q: I don’t have health insurance, can I pay for myself? 

A: Yes, you can. Our self-pay team can talk you through this and explain the finance options that are available, should you wish to explore them. Call 0121 704 5530, or enquire here.


This X-Ray allows you to see how the BioPoly implant fits on the knee

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