Risk for Hip, Knee Replacements May Be Predicted By Genetics: Study

Researchers found genetics made a statistically significant difference in predicting which individuals may need hip or knee replacement in the future.

A new study suggests that genetics may put certain individuals at an increased risk of experiencing severe osteoarthritis, which is a disease that causes degeneration of cartilage and bone that often requires hip or knee replacement surgery.

Each year, nearly 1.3 million people throughout the United States undergo knee replacement surgery or hip replacement surgery to relieve damaged or deteriorated joints caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, trauma and other complications that impact the knee and hip joint functionality. Predicting which individuals may be more likely to require the procedures could result in earlier intervention that may reduce the risks associated with the procedures and improve long-term outcomes.

In findings published this month in the medical journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, researchers indicate that an individual’s genetic data may be used to calculate the likelihood of needing a major hip or knee replacement surgery later life due to osteoarthritis, which could lead to earlier intervention therapy that may help avoid the need for a joint replacement.

According to findings published by Australian researchers from the University of Melbourne, risk-scores for needing major joint replacement surgery due to osteoarthritis were calculated based on an individual’s DNA. The study identified 10 genetic sequence variants for predicting a person’s risk of needing knee replacement surgery and 37 genetic sequence variants for predicting the risk of needing hip replacement surgery for more than 12,000 patients.

Findings indicate the rate of knee joint replacement for those with low genomic risk is 9.5%, whereas it’s 13% among people who are at high-risk levels. The rate for hip replacement participants were 8.3% versus 14.6%, which the study indicates is a significant difference.

The study highlights the ability to identify individuals that could benefit from early intervention to treat osteoarthritis, which could prevent the need for hip, knee or major joint replacement surgeries that can cause a lifetime of joint pain and complications.

Unnecessary Joint Replacements Increase Long-Term Risks

While modern medical technology and design improvements over the past few decades have resulted in very low knee and hip replacement failure rates overall, some patients do experience joint replacement problems after only five years or ten years, requiring early revision surgery.

In addition, some hip and knee implant designs have been plagued by problems, which may result in the need for early revision surgery and more total joint replacements within an individual’s life-time.

In February, an Exactech knee recall was issued for more than 140,000 Optetrak, Optetrak Logic and Truliant implants used since 2004, which were packaged in “out-of-specification” vacuum bags that exposed the plastic components to oxygen before they were implanted. The manufacturer acknowledged at that time that the packaging defect increased the risk the knee implant may degrade and fail once in the body.

Since the recall, a growing number of Exactech knee replacement lawsuits have been filed by individuals who experienced problems with an Optetrak, Optetrak logic or Truliant system received in recent years, indicating that the manufacturer ignored evidence of an abysmal knee failure rates associated with the implants.

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