Germany is home to some of the most innovative and experienced orthopedic specialists. With an aging population, the demand for orthopedic operations in Germany has been steadily increasing, and orthopedic surgeons in Germany have kept up with the challenge. By adopting new technologies and developing new techniques, orthopedic surgeons in Germany provide patients excellent care to ensure they maintain a high quality of life.
“70-year-olds today want to be just as fit as earlier 40-year-olds,” said Professor Dr. Joachim Grifka, Head of Department for Orthopedics at the University Clinic in Bad Abbach, Bavaria. “With new therapy and treatment techniques, we can often make that possible in the realms of the musculoskeletal system.”
A recent government report examined the quality of orthopedic operations in Germany, with promising results.
High patient satisfaction and low rates of complications for joint replacement surgery
Joint replacement operations in Germany are experiencing high rates of patient satisfaction, sinking rates of complications, and are increasingly incorporating new medical technologies for better results, according to a report released by the Federal Association of Medical Technology (BVMed).
The rates of complications associated with traditional hip and knee replacements have been steadily declining for years. This is largely due to the development of new medical technologies, such as minimally invasive procedures, which have shorter recovery times and fewer risks as compared to traditional techniques.
In addition, an independent survey conducted by the Infrastructure and Health Institute (IGES) showed that the majority of patients who received a hip or knee replacement were satisfied with the results of the treatment.
“Important documented quality indicators show us that right now, joint replacement patients nationwide are looked after very well,” said Professor Bertram Häussler, leader of the IGES Institute.
Innovative therapy concepts and new operation techniques
New therapy concepts are being developed and operation techniques perfected by orthopedic surgeons all over Germany, many of which could revolutionize the treatment of joint-related illnesses.
“The trend is clearly moving towards fewer foreign materials and more implementation of endogenous materials, such as with the repair of degenerated joints,” said Dr. Grifka.
Grifka Bad AbbachGrifka’s department is developing cartilage transplants in order to preserve the patient’s own joints, a non-surgical procedure with faster recovery times than traditional joint replacement.
“With the help of naturally-grown cell material from the patient’s own body, more damages in the joints can be repaired with natural substances instead of implants from metal or artificial materials,” he said.
If a surgical procedure is unavoidable, patients in Germany are already benefiting from new advancements in operation techniques. Minimally invasive procedures are now standard in Germany for many types of surgery, resulting in fewer complications, shorter recovery times and less scarring. Computer technology allows artificial joints to be implanted with precision down to the millimeter, which provides patients an optimal fit and results in longer durability. And some German clinics have introduced custom-sized knee implants made from a 3D printer to provide patients the best possible fit.
New materials for traditional joint replacements
German hospitals have been proactive in adopting new medical technologies as they become available. Especially for hip replacements, there is a notable trend in phasing out traditional materials for new, more effective technologies. For example, there has been a growing trend towards adopting cement-free and press fit hip implants, which may be a better treatment option for many patients than traditional cemented implants. And for tribological pairings, a growing number of surgeons are adopting high-quality, abrasion-proof ceramic-on-ceramic pairings, and the less sturdy metal-on-metal devices are no longer in use.
Many German orthopedic surgeons are competent in both traditional and innovative surgical techniques, and they use expert diagnostic methods to determine which technique is best for each patient.
A bright future for orthopedics
With Germany’s aging population, it should not come as a surprise that hip and knee joint replacements are becoming the most widely-performed surgical procedures in the country today. In 2014, hip and knee joint replacements made up 1.4 percent and .9 percent respectively of all fully inpatient operations in Germany, according to the BVMed report.
“Increasingly more people will live not only longer, but also more actively with a joint replacement,” said Prof. Heiko Reichel, President of the German Society for Orthopedic and Emergency Surgery (DGOU). “Therefore we need efforts to ensure quality treatments, even in the near future."