Researchers at the University of Oxford have found that many more patients could be given a partial knee replacement instead of a total knee replacement, resulting in improvements in their quality of life and lower costs for the healthcare system.

The researchers from the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS) used routinely collected data from the National Joint Registry (NJR) and found that partial replacements, also known as unicompartmental replacements (UKR), are better for patients who have only part of their knee affected by arthritis and could therefore have either a partial or a total replacement.

The procedure is less invasive, allows for a faster recovery, carries less post-operative risks and provides better function. It is also a cheaper intervention for the NHS, in both the short and long term.

“The main strength of this study is that we were able to use real data, from very large numbers of people, about their actual operations, their GP visit, and their own reported quality of life outcomes in a way that is not always possible,” says co-lead researcher and NDORMS Senior Health Economist Dr Rafael Pinedo-Villanueva, who is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and the Medical Research Council.

“This has allowed us to provide strong proof that partial knee replacements are both better for patients and cheaper for the NHS,” he added.

The research, to be published on Monday 30 April in BMJ Open, compared people who had a partial knee replacement with those who had a total knee replacement, but could have had a partial replacement.

By Oxford Biomedical Research Centre

Image Credit: Oxford BRC

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