Surgery: 15 Years Later

As a new patient about to undergo knee replacement surgery, you may be wondering, “How long will the implant last?”

The answer to this question may vary from surgeon to surgeon, based on the prosthesis used during the procedure, and your physical activity level after surgery.

For knees, Dr. Berger uses the Zimmer NexGen High-Flex gender-specific prosthetic. The average lifespan is approximately 15-25 years. It is comprised of four pieces: the two titanium components that cement to the bottom of the femur and top of the tibia, the plastic liner that connects to the tibial component, and the plastic piece that is pegged to the back of the knee cap.

The plastic liner is the piece that will wear over time with physical activity, similar to how tires wear on a car. If this component needs to be replaced, Dr. Berger performs a procedure referred to at a liner exchange. Fortunately, this is a much less invasive operation — essentially one-fifth of the initial procedure requiring less recovery time.

Dr. Berger has been performing his minimally invasive outpatient procedure since 2001, allowing us to follow the long-term recovery of numerous patients. While some have needed a second procedure, others have not.

Our patient, John Larson, is a great example of how the durable the prosthesis can be.

75-year-old Larson has been athletic his entire life, specifically enjoying tennis and golf.

In the early 2000’s, Larson’s arthritic knee pain became so debilitating that his tennis and golf games began to suffer. At that point, he knew something had to be done.

Larson decided to undergo a traditional right knee replacement in 2002, which included a three-day hospital stay, seven days in a rehabilitation facility and an additional ten weeks of physical therapy.

When it came to his left knee replacement, in 2005 Larson opted to have surgery with Dr. Berger. He was intrigued by Dr. Berger’s minimally invasive approach to joint replacement surgery. To his pleasant surprise, Larson was discharged from the hospital and able to return directly home the same day of his operation.

“I did NOT need to be confined in a rehab facility and the physical therapy was six weeks to full recovery,” says Larson.

Now, Larson is happy to announce, both of his knees feel great! Playing golf and tennis three times a week is part of his routine.

He states: “The results were excellent for both knees, but the journey was much easier with Dr. Berger’s minimally invasive technique.”