Triathlon Knee Replacement

Marlene Cameron likes to think that her zest for life is infectious…at 70 years old, she is an avid walker, exercises regularly and has a jam-packed social calendar. But, over the past couple of years, her arthritic knees began to zap away her vitality, leaving her depressed and in tremendous pain. “I was out in my garden doing some pruning and it felt like something snapped in my leg. And it was like pain, I couldn’t even stand, I had to get down on the ground it was so bad,” says Marlene. After rounds of anti-inflammatory drugs, extensive physical therapy, Marlene still had no relief. Her doctor determined that she would be the perfect candidate for the new triathlon knee replacement system. “The triathlon knee was created based on a different sizing method so that it is gender specific, paying attention especially to women where we had difficulty in sizing,” says Dr. Steven Harwin of Beth Israel Medical Center. The Triathlon Knee is designed with a wide range of sizing options that closely match the anatomies of both women and men. For women, the smaller sized implants have a more narrow design, helping to improve fit and function for the female bone structure.

“The Triathlon Knee, the way that it is configured allows for a more anatomical range of motion and so a traditional knee replacement would normally allow 135 degrees of motion, the triathlon knee allows for over a 150 degrees of motion and it allows the knee to rotate both in and out when the knee is straight and when the knee is bending and so that facilitates a full range of motion,” explains Dr. Harwin.

One of the main components of a knee implant is the bearing surface. “With the Triathlon Knee we are using a new high performance plastic bearing insert, one of the problems in the past was that the plastic that was part of the bearing insert would wear out and this would cause particles to form in the knee and loosen the knee and make the knee become unstable, with the new polyethylene that is called x3 polyethylene this has very, very favorable wear characteristics, we do have the hope that a knee that we put in today will last the patient a life time,” says Dr. Harwin.

Marlene had the Triathlon Knee procedure in January. She says recovery was a dream…by her three week post-op check-up she was walking cane-free. “I’m enjoying life again. I’m in my garden, I’m going shopping, I’m running up and down stairs, I’m walking,” says Dr. Harwin. The procedure itself is done with a spinal or epidural type anesthesia. It takes a little under an hour to insert the implant.

The patient is up and walking with a physical therapist either that afternoon or the next morning. Patients are usually discharged from the hospital after two or three days. In around four to six weeks, most patients will be back to their daily activities, walking, driving. But, full recovery can take anywhere from three months to a year.


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