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Warwick researchers aim to improve outcome of knee replacement surgery

A team of researchers at the University of Warwick have been awarded funding from Arthritis Research UK to improve the success of knee replacement surgery.

Ten per cent of people over the age of 55 suffer from pain and reduced quality of life as a result of knee osteoarthritis.

Although total knee replacement surgery is a highly effective way of treating severe disease for the majority of patients, with more than 84,000 performed annually in England in Wales, one in six people who undergo the operation are not satisfied with the outcome because they still have some pain, stiffness or some level of disability.

Now the team, based at the University’s Clinical Trials Unit and headed by Professor Damian Griffin, have been awarded £85,000 over three years from the medical research charity to devise a study that will accurately predict how individual patients will respond to the operation, enabling patients to make an informed decision whether to go ahead with it or not.

Six hundred people undergoing knee replacement surgery in the Coventry and Warwickshire area will be asked to take part in the study. They will be asked questions about their coping strategies, levels of anxiety and depression, whether they live alone, and their general physical and mental health.

Patients will then be followed for a year so the research team can measure their satisfaction levels, how well the new knee is performing and their general health. Analysing this information will enable them to confidently predict the outcome for an individual following knee replacement surgery.

“Although knee replacement surgery is a well-established and effective operation, the interplay that different patient factors have on the outcome of the operation is not well understood,” explained one of the Warwick researchers, trainee orthopaedic surgeon Tim Barlow.

“By using this knowledge we will be able to build a questionnaire-based tool to provide a personalised prediction of outcome. Hopefully it will improve patient satisfaction following surgery, and give patients a better idea of what to expect from the operation. Further down the line, once we’ve identified those people who are at a high risk of dissatisfaction, we can do a number of things to modify that risk.”

Medical director Professor Alan Silman commented: “Despite the high success rate of knee replacement surgery, we need to do more to ensure that the one in six people who are not fully satisfied do better in future, and we hope this new research will go some way to achieving that.

“We’re a charity that relies on the support of the public to enable us to continue funding important research, and this kind of study is very much aimed at making a difference to the lives of people with arthritis.”


Editor’s note

For more information or to speak to Tim Barlow please contact Jane Tadman in the Arthritis Research UK press office on 01246 541107 or j dot tadman at arthritisresearchuk dot org

Arthritis Research UK

Arthritis Research UK is the charity dedicated to stopping the devastating impact that arthritis has on people’s lives. Everything that we do is focused on taking the pain away and keeping people active. Our remit covers all conditions which affect the joints, bones and muscles including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain and osteoporosis.

We fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis, provide information on how to maintain healthy joints and bones and to live well with arthritis. We also champion the cause, influence policy change and work in partnership with others to achieve our aims. We depend on public support and the generosity of our donors to keep doing this vital work.