Custom Kneecap Replacement is a Step-Up

Patients with knee arthritis affecting only the patellofemoral joint (kneecap) do not have to live with debilitating pain.  At Commonwealth Orthopaedic Centers, John J. Larkin, M.D., is using improved technology and instrumentation to create custom implants that allow patients a quick return to active lifestyles.

About Patellofemoral Joint Arthritis

Patellofemoral joint arthritis affects the patella, or kneecap.  This bone connects muscles in the femur (thighbone) with the tibia (shinbone).  Arthritis occurs when the cartilage beneath the patella and along the groove on top of the femur wears away.

Women are far more likely to be affected by this type of arthritis.  "Women have a wide hip angle, and therefore the force at the knee tends to pull the kneecap towards the outside part of the knee," Dr. Larkin explains.  This can result in uneven wear and, ultimately, bone-on-bone arthritis beneath the kneecap.  Cheerleaders, volleyball players and gymnasts who commonly endure repetitive, direct-impact injuries are associated with patellofemoral joint arthritis.  Patients tend to notice the effects in 10 or 15 years, while in their 30s or early 40s, Dr. Larkin says.  Telltale symptoms are discomfort with prolonged sitting, such as sitting in a movie theater or airplane seat.  Climbing stairs, squatting or kneeling can also be particularly painful.

Patellofemoral arthroplasty (a type of partial knee replacement) may be considered if a patient's arthritis is isolated to the kneecap and if the weight-bearing portion of the knee is unaffected.  Candidates are generally young, have already been treated conservatively with injection techniques and are not at risk for further arthritic deterioration of the remaining portion of the knee.

Dr. Larkin is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon with a special interest in cartilage repair and transplantation for arthritis treatment.  He performs many total and partial knee replacements using customized implants.  To learn more about Dr. Larkin, click HERE.