Steven's pioneering op is a success

By Becky HallewellA BUSINESSMAN'S life has been transformed by one of the first operations to insert a revolutionary knee implant. Steven Riches suffered a football injury more than 25 years ago and his right knee slowly degenerated until arthritis left him unable to either bend or straighten his leg.

By Becky Hallewell

A BUSINESSMAN'S life has been transformed by one of the first operations to insert a revolutionary knee implant.

Steven Riches suffered a football injury more than 25 years ago and his right knee slowly degenerated until arthritis left him unable to either bend or straighten his leg.

Now, thanks to an operation at Springfield Hospital in Chelmsford, the 53-year-old from Chelmsford is walking and working pain-free.


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But Mr Riches was only able to undergo surgery thanks to pioneering new implant material, expected to last twice as long as traditional material.

As conventional implants are not expected to last more than 10 to 15 years, surgeons have been reluctant to operate on patients much younger than 65. If one operation is performed, a later operation is much more difficult and less likely to succeed.

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The new material - oxidized zirconium, known as Oxinium - boasts a wear-and-tear improvement over conventional implants of up to 85%.

After 11 years of tests, it has now been made available nationwide and the launch of Oxinium for use in hip replacements is imminent.

Mr Riches, owner of Rose Property Maintenance, said yesterday: “If I hadn't had it done, I'd be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

“Here I am running around like a spring chicken and up and down ladders - I feel like a new man. I walked the Great Wall of China before and I'm going to walk it again.”

Before the operation, Mr Riches had no idea he would be a guinea pig, but considers himself so lucky to have been chosen.

“Someone was looking down on me. I suffered with pain and very limited movement in my right knee for over 25 years and before the operation I could only walk a couple of hundred yards because of the pain,” he said.

“Now I've had a new lease of life - I'd recommend it to anyone. I won't put my feet up and retire until I'm 85.”

The orthopaedic surgeon at Broomfield and Springfield Hospitals in Chelmsford, Stephen Palmer, is a pioneer in using Oxinium implants and performed Mr Riches' operation.

He said: “This knee replacement addresses one of the most critical issues in orthopaedics today, namely that the lower the amount of wear, the longer the implant will last.

“Oxinium is a superior implant that is expected to last longer and will allow active, younger patients to benefit much earlier from a replacement knee.

“This, in turn, will reduce the amount of suffering a patient often experiences due to a painful knee.”

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