Men and women are different — from head to, well, knee. For decades, men and women who needed a new knee have been given a unisex replacement. Now, there is a new knee designed just for women. Gender Solutions Knee, a gender-specific knee replacement, was approved by the FDA in May 2006.
Dr. Matthew Kraay, director of the division of joint reconstruction and arthritis surgery at Univer-sity Hospitals Case Medical Center — and the first surgeon in the area to use the new knee — says there are three main differences between the average female knee and the typical male knee.
A woman’s knee is narrower, while a male knee is rectangular.
A male knee has a thicker and more prominent ridge on the front. Finally, since the shape of a woman’s pelvis and hips are different, the line of pull through the thigh muscle where it attaches to the kneecap is also different.
While Kraay says there isn’t much difference between the knees cosmetically, the feel is vastly differ-ent. Nicknamed the “pink” knee, though it’s not actually pink, it is made from the same material as the unisex version, cobalt chromium alloy, but it has been designed to bend better, up to 155 degrees, compared with 125 degrees on a standard knee.
“The real motivation is to provide better function, better mobility and better pain relief,” says Kraay, who has performed about 40 gender-specific knee replacements at UHCMC since last July.
The female knee will certainly get a lot of use. About two-thirds of knee replacements done each year are performed on women.
“It’s amazing how things have changed. We’ve refined things to such an unbelievable level. If you told me 15 to 20 years ago what things were going to be like now, I never would have believed it.”