Gender-Specific Knee Replacement

Knee replacement surgery is a common procedure for people suffering from severe knee pain and mobility issues. However, recent advancements have introduced the concept of gender-specific knee replacement, tailored specifically to the anatomical differences between men and women. In this guide, we’ll delve into the basics of knee replacement surgery, explore the differences between traditional and gender-specific approaches, and discuss their potential benefits and considerations.


Understanding Knee Replacement Surgery

Before diving into gender-specific knee replacement, let’s first understand the basics of knee replacement surgery. The knee joint is a complex structure consisting of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Over time, factors such as aging, injury, or conditions like osteoarthritis can lead to the deterioration of these components, causing pain and limiting mobility.

Knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, involves replacing damaged parts of the knee joint with artificial implants made of metal and plastic. This procedure aims to reduce pain, improve function, and enhance overall quality of life for individuals with severe knee problems.

Knee replacement surgery offers excellent surgical treatment for end-stage arthritis. Patients are able to get back to their day-to-day activities without the fear of knee pain. Technological advances have been made in the designs of knee replacement implants so they mimic the natural knee motion closely.

Gender-specific implants involve the use of implants designed specifically for females. Gender-specific implants are relatively new and there is no long-term data to suggest if they are better than traditional implants.

The male and the female knee

The human knee is formed by the thigh bone, the shinbone, and the kneecap. There is a slight variation in the anatomy of the human male and the female knee joint. In males, the lower end of the thigh bone forming the knee joint is wider than the female joint (medial to lateral distance).

Similarly, the height of the bony knobs of the lower thigh bone (femoral condyles) is more in males. The kneecap (patella) sits in a groove formed by the femoral condyles. The groove is deeper in males as compared to females.

X-ray showing a total knee replacement in AP view.

X-ray showing a total knee replacement in AP view.

The thigh muscles in front of the knee (quadriceps) that are responsible for straightening the leg are attached to the kneecap via the quadriceps tendon. The kneecap is attached to the upper end of the shin bone (tibia) via the patellar tendon. The angle formed by the thigh muscles’ attachment with the kneecap is different in males and females.

Knee replacement biomechanics

Knee replacement surgery is most commonly done to treat end-stage osteoarthritis. During the surgery, the bony ends forming the knee joint are replaced with metal alloy prosthetic parts. The lower end of the femur is replaced with a femoral component and the upper part of the tibia is replaced with a tibial component.

The size of the prosthetic metal implants is determined by the size of the bone removed during the surgery. The surgeon cuts the bone to remove the arthritic bone and as well as to correct any deformity caused by arthritis. The implants are capped at the bony ends using special bone cement.

The undersurface of the kneecap (patella) is usually covered by a prosthetic plastic part. A polyethylene plastic spacer is introduced in between the metal parts to smooth the movement and provide stability.

Balancing the knee joint is an important part of knee replacement surgery. The surgeon tries to equalize and balance the forces acting in front, back, and the sides of the knee. The balancing ensures that the prosthetic knee joint is stable and allows movement in the natural range of motion.

Gender-specific implants

A balanced prosthetic knee joint allows movements that closely resemble the natural knee. A balanced and stable knee joint also ensures the implants would last for many years or even a lifetime.

Traditionally, the size of implants used during the surgery is “off the shelf” implants. The off the shelf implants come in different sizes. Traditional implants are made to resemble an average knee and with sizes small and large.

The surgeon measures the amount of bone removed during the surgery and depending upon the size choose the best fitting off-the-shelf implants. Gender-specific implants are made keeping in mind the anatomy of the female knee.

While the traditional implant sizes used in females have been extremely successful, gender-specific implants were recently introduced to potentially make the implants resemble the natural knee as close as possible.

The gender-specific implants for female knees have a smaller medial to lateral distance so they resemble the natural knee. The front-to-back distance of the implant also closely matched the natural knee.

The modification in gender-specific implants prevents overhang or underhanging of the implant which may be encountered in traditional off-the-shelf implants. The patellar tracking is also optimized for the female anatomy in gender-specific implants.

Intraoperative image showing the tibial component with polyethylene spacer.

Intraoperative image showing the tibial component with polyethylene spacer.


Potential Benefits of Gender-Specific Knee Replacement:

Improved Fit and Function: By customizing the implant to match the individual’s anatomy, gender-specific knee replacement may result in better fit and alignment, leading to improved stability and range of motion.

Reduced Risk of Complications: A better-fitting implant may reduce the risk of complications such as implant loosening, dislocation, and uneven wear, which can prolong the lifespan of the artificial joint.

Enhanced Patient Satisfaction: With a knee replacement that feels more natural and comfortable, patients may experience higher satisfaction levels and better outcomes following surgery.


Considerations for Gender-Specific Knee Replacement

While gender-specific knee replacement offers promising benefits, there are several factors to consider before opting for this approach:

Individual Variability: Despite gender differences in knee anatomy, there is considerable variability among individuals. Therefore, the decision to pursue gender-specific implants should be based on a comprehensive assessment of each patient’s unique anatomical characteristics.

Surgical Expertise: Gender-specific knee replacement requires specialized surgical techniques and expertise. Surgeons should undergo proper training and have experience in performing these procedures to ensure optimal outcomes.

Cost Considerations: Gender-specific implants may be associated with higher costs compared to traditional implants. Patients should weigh the potential benefits against the additional expenses and consider factors such as insurance coverage and financial resources.

Long-Term Data: While early studies suggest positive outcomes with gender-specific knee replacement, long-term data on durability, effectiveness, and patient satisfaction are still evolving. Patients should discuss the latest research findings and consult with their healthcare provider to make informed decisions.



Gender-specific implants are fairly recent advancements in the field of tried and tested traditional knee replacement implants. While studies have shown their benefits compared to traditional implants, there are no long-term studies to conclude if they offer any functional benefit from the traditional implants.

Knee replacement surgeries are highly successful and on average, the traditional knee implants may last 20 years or longer. While technological advancements like gender-specific knees may offer additional benefits, they may not be best suited for all patients. Speak with your orthopedic surgeon regarding the implants that may be best suited for your case. Additionally, surgeons may not be comfortable using implants that may not have been tried and tested for a long time.

Do you have more questions? 

How do I know if I’m a suitable candidate for gender-specific knee replacement?

Your orthopedic surgeon will assess various factors, including your knee anatomy, medical history, and severity of knee symptoms, to determine if gender-specific knee replacement is appropriate for you.

Are there any specific age requirements for undergoing gender-specific knee replacement?

Age alone is not a determining factor. The suitability for surgery depends more on your overall health, extent of knee damage, and your goals for surgery.

How long does the recovery process take after gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

Recovery time varies from person to person but typically involves several weeks of rehabilitation and physical therapy to regain strength, flexibility, and mobility in the knee.

Can gender-specific knee replacement surgery be performed using minimally invasive techniques?

Yes, minimally invasive approaches can be utilized for gender-specific knee replacement surgery, resulting in smaller incisions, less tissue damage, and potentially faster recovery.

What are the potential risks and complications associated with gender-specific knee replacement?

Common risks include infection, blood clots, implant loosening, and nerve or blood vessel injury. However, these risks are generally low with proper surgical technique and postoperative care.

How long do gender-specific knee replacement implants typically last?

The longevity of knee implants can vary depending on factors such as patient activity level, implant design, and overall health. On average, knee replacements can last 15-20 years or longer with proper care.

Are there any restrictions on physical activities after gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

While you may be able to resume many activities, high-impact or strenuous activities like running and jumping may be discouraged to avoid excessive wear on the implant.

Will I still need regular follow-up appointments with my orthopedic surgeon after gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

Yes, regular follow-up appointments are essential to monitor your progress, address any concerns, and ensure the long-term success of your knee replacement.

Can gender-specific knee replacement surgery be performed on both knees simultaneously?

Depending on your overall health and the recommendation of your surgeon, bilateral (both knees) gender-specific knee replacement surgery may be an option for some patients.

How soon can I expect to experience relief from knee pain after gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

Many patients experience significant pain relief shortly after surgery, although full recovery and optimal pain relief may take several weeks to months.

Are there any alternative treatments to gender-specific knee replacement for managing knee pain?

Depending on the severity of your knee symptoms, alternative treatments such as medication, physical therapy, injections, or other surgical procedures may be explored before considering knee replacement surgery.

Will I need to undergo any preoperative tests or evaluations before gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

Yes, your surgeon may order preoperative tests such as blood work, imaging scans, and a comprehensive physical examination to assess your overall health and identify any potential risks

How soon can I return to work or regular daily activities after gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

The timing of your return to work and daily activities will depend on factors such as your job requirements, the type of surgery performed, and your rate of recovery. Your surgeon will provide specific guidance based on your individual circumstances.

What steps can I take to optimize my recovery and maximize the success of gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

Following your surgeon’s postoperative instructions, participating in physical therapy, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and attending regular follow-up appointments are crucial for a successful recovery.

Are there any specific dietary guidelines I should follow before or after gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

While there are no strict dietary restrictions, maintaining a balanced diet rich in nutrients can support healing and overall recovery. Your surgeon may provide personalized dietary recommendations based on your individual needs.

How do I manage pain and discomfort during the recovery period after gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

Your surgeon will prescribe pain medications and recommend other pain management strategies such as icing, elevation, and gentle exercises to help alleviate discomfort during the recovery process.

Will I need assistance at home following gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

Depending on your level of mobility and independence, you may require assistance with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and personal care during the initial stages of recovery.

Can complications arise years after undergoing gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

While complications are rare in the long term, issues such as implant wear, loosening, or infection may occur several years after surgery. Regular follow-up appointments with your surgeon can help monitor for any potential complications.

Is gender-specific knee replacement surgery covered by insurance?

In many cases, gender-specific knee replacement surgery is covered by health insurance, although coverage may vary depending on your specific plan and provider. It’s important to check with your insurance company to understand your coverage options and any potential out-of-pocket costs.

How do I find a qualified orthopedic surgeon experienced in performing gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

You can start by asking for recommendations from your primary care physician or researching orthopedic surgeons specializing in knee replacement surgery in your area. Be sure to inquire about their experience, training, and patient outcomes related to gender-specific knee replacement.

Can I undergo gender-specific knee replacement surgery if I have other underlying health conditions?

Your surgeon will evaluate your overall health and medical history to determine if you’re a suitable candidate for surgery. While certain health conditions may increase the risks associated with surgery, they may not necessarily preclude you from undergoing gender-specific knee replacement.

Will I need to make any modifications to my home environment to accommodate my recovery after gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

Depending on your mobility and accessibility needs, you may need to make temporary modifications to your home, such as installing handrails, raised toilet seats, or removing trip hazards, to ensure a safe and comfortable recovery environment.

How can I manage swelling and inflammation in my knee after gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

Your surgeon may recommend techniques such as icing, compression therapy, elevation, and prescribed medications to help reduce swelling and inflammation during the recovery period.

What are the potential signs of complications or issues that I should watch out for after gender-specific knee replacement surgery?

Warning signs such as increased pain, swelling, redness, warmth, or drainage from the surgical site, as well as difficulty bearing weight or sudden changes in mobility, should be promptly reported to your surgeon for further evaluation and management.


My name is Dr. Suhirad Khokhar, and am an orthopaedic surgeon. I completed my MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery) at Govt. Medical College, Patiala, India.

I specialize in musculoskeletal disorders and their management, and have personally approved of and written this content.

My profile page has all of my educational information, work experience, and all the pages on this site that I've contributed to.