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Issue 475, 21 January 2002

New design for knees

The design of artificial knee replacements for younger patients is to be improved, following 25,761 funding by the Arthritis Research Campaign to Pro-Vice-Chancellor for research and professor of mechanical engineering John Fisher.

"While knee prostheses currently show good success rates for up to ten years, there is some doubt about long-term performance in younger, more active patients, who need the new joint to last longer," explained Professor Fisher.

"In particular, as the joint wears, the generation and accumulation in the tissues of micron-size particles can lead to it loosening."

Knee joints are currently designed and tested under standard conditions that replicate the forces and motions of the natural knee. But recent studies have shown that there are actually considerable differences between artificial and natural knee joints in certain types of motion.

Professor Fisher and his team plan to investigate the wear of knee prostheses in laboratory simulators by simulating these particular types of motion.

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