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Surgeon unveils flexible new knee

The lives of thousands of people worldwide could be transformed thanks to a revolutionary replacement knee developed by Southampton surgeon David Barrett.

Patients in their 40s and early 50s crippled by bone diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis will be the main group to benefit from the pioneering development.

At present surgeons are reluctant to operate on anyone under pensionable age because artificial knees only last a maximum of ten – 15 years and cannot easily be replaced.

But Mr Barrett, an orthopaedic consultant at the General Hospital, believes that after eight years of work he has developed a longer lasting knee which also offers patients more mobility.

Mr Barrett said “Conventional knees are fixed which means the joint does not move naturally and wears in an unusual way. “But we are trying to push the envelope of knee surgery and have produced a different shaped knee with flexible parts which replicate the movement of cartilage”.

More than 100 selected patients in Southampton and Florence, Italy have been involved in clinical trials and a joint European-American consortium has been formed to launch the knee on the medical market in March.

Mr Barrett added: “Offering people knee replacements at the age of 70 is all very well but what about the increasing number of young people who are being denied the chance to continue their active lives. People in their 40s and 50s can have relatively young children and want to continue working and enjoying their leisure time. We hope this new knee will help many patients do that”

By: Kim d’Arcy, Southampton General Hospital

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