NKY Beacon Orthopedics surgeon implants world’s first ‘smart knee’

Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton is a reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected]

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A retired nurse received the world’s first “smart knee” implant from a Northern Kentucky surgeon.

The operation was performed by orthopedic surgeon John Larkin, M.D. of Beacon Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. The Persona IQ “smart knee” contains small sensors that collect data on the patient’s recovery process and movements following a knee replacement. The surgeon and patient receive information through a smartphone app from a transmitter within the implant.

The Persona IQ® Smart Knee implant from Zimmer Bioment. Photo provided | Zimmer Bioment

Larkin referred to the technology as “revolutionary” and said the implant will allow the recovery process to be more interactive.

“It is a true game-changer in terms of where technology is going,” Larkin said. “It is not for every patient, but for those who embrace technology, this is the future.”

Retired nurse Ann Patten started having problems with her knee after she tore her meniscus in 2004. She described having difficulty moving her knee, continuous pain and a loss of cartilage. Patten was intrigued once Larkin approached her with the idea of implanting the “smart knee.”

“I wanted to make sure I had the right surgeon and the right team that I could trust to really do the procedure well,” Patten said. “My second major concern was having a successful recovery period. That was critical in working to return to full mobility.

After her surgery, she was able to track her steps, average walking speed, stride length, walking distance between destinations and range of motion. 

“The smart knee allows a patient to see how they are doing and if they are making progress on a day-to-day basis,” Larkin said. “They can monitor their range of motion, steps, cadence, overall stability and more. It really implores the patient to work harder because they can see if they are progressing. They are no longer just a passive player in their recovery.”

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Developed by Zimmer Biomet, the smart knee’s sensors are connected to the traditional part of the implant. The smart sensor collects data several times a day, analyzes it overnight and presents it for viewing the following day. The long-term data collection is automatically available for the surgeon and care team review.

Larkin thinks the technology will eventually expand beyond knees, and could be used in the future for shoulder and hip replacements. 

From Patten’s perspective, she was excited to be a part of the innovative procedure.

“I had no trouble in setting up the modem and learning how to track my progress,” she said. “I’ve received tremendous support from Dr. Larkin and the team I have been working with. It has gone very, very well.”

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