Best Knee Replacement Implant

Which knee replacement implant is considered the best?

Knee replacement surgery is among the most common surgical procedures performed around the world. In the United States alone, more than 600,000 knee replacements are performed every year, and expectations are that this number will continue to grow dramatically in the coming decades.

Doctor holding knee implant
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Current estimates predict that by the year 2030, more than 3 million knee replacements will be performed in the United States every year!

A knee replacement is performed to remove a worn out, arthritic joint, and replace it with an artificial implant that is most commonly made of metal and plastic.

There are many orthopedic manufacturing companies that produce different implants used in knee replacement surgery. Most of these companies make several different knee replacement prosthetic implants. Is there a way to determine which knee replacement implant is best?

What Makes a Knee Implant Best?

Asking orthopedic surgeons what knee replacement is best is like going to a car show and asking people which is the best car. You'll find lots of different answers, and each person thinks they've got the right answer.

One of the most important aspects of knee replacement surgery is determining the proper implant to be used in the operation.

However, people disagree on what criteria are most important to select the best knee replacement implant.

  • Do you use the implant with the newest design or the implant with the longest track record?
  • Does a surgeon use many different implants depending on each patient, or become most comfortable with one implant for every patient?
  • Should a surgeon use implants suggested or asked for by their patients?

Orthopedic supply companies have begun to advertise directly to consumers. The advertisements might make you believe that their implant has been shown to be better than other implants. This has been seen with 'gender-specific knee replacements' and 'rotating knee replacements.'

Medical Research Studies

There are thousands of studies published in the scientific literature evaluating various knee replacement implants. Unfortunately, the studies are generally performed to prove that an implant that is coming to the market will perform satisfactorily.

Studies have not been performed to compare the long-term results of different implants over decades of time.

In the past decade, the American joint replacement registry has been created to establish a database and will collect information about the performance of joint replacement implants in the decades to come.

Joint replacement registry such as this has been proven to be helpful in finding underperforming implants and removing them from the market. Over the coming decades, these data will be helpful in guiding decisions about selecting the ideal implant.

As of 2019, the American Joint Replacement Registry has enrolled over 1,282 hospitals and surgery centers to participate in collecting data, with over 8,786 registered surgeons.

The database currently has information on over one million patients. Again, most of these patients have been enrolled in the past few years.

These types of registries are not only important to determine which implant is best, but they can also provide useful information about techniques to perform surgery that may improve results, rehabilitation protocols which may lead to better outcomes, and other information about why some patients do better after knee replacements when compared to others.

At the present time, however, we simply do not have sufficient data to determine the best knee replacement implant. The ideal knee replacement implant will allow for normal activities, normal motion, and last the patient's lifetime.

The only way to know if these goals will be met is to use the implant in people doing normal activities, and follow their results for decades. Therefore, implants designed recently do not have long-term track records that prove their longevity.

Bottom Line - What Knee Implant Is Best?

Even though we may not know which implant is best, I think there are some helpful principles that can be applied to the selection of the implant that is likely to provide excellent long-term results. I recommend patients and surgeons select an implant that fits the following criteria:

  • Has a reasonable track record of use (minimum of 5-10 years)
  • The surgeon has used the implant many times before
  • Is appropriate for the patient's condition

If you have questions about a specific implant, ask your healthcare provider about the knee replacement prosthesis. Ask your surgeon to compare it to the implant he or she usually uses. If you want more information about an implant, you can read more from the company websites.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. OrthoInfo from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Total knee replacement.

  2. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The AAOS American joint replacement registry.

Additional Reading

By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.