Read Original Story

A new knee built for women only

Rating

4 Star

A new knee built for women only

Our Review Summary

This is a nice, concise piece that highlights a new surgical device designed to fit into an already crowded field. On its face, implants tailored for women’s knees have a certain appeal. This story asks whether their merits extend beyond marketing to improved outcomes after surgery—in the form of greater pain relief or patient satisfaction. Readers quickly learn that no one knows. The unfolding story covers a lot of ground in a very short space (375 words). It points out that there is so far no credible evidence to show whether the Gender Knee by Zimmer is as good as, better than, or worse than other artificial knees designed by competing manufacturers. Though it’s more expensive than other implants, quantifying the benefits of the Gender Knee is currently an exercise in speculation. Three different sources fill out the tale—a spokesperson for the medical society representing the nation’s orthopaedists, a spokesperson for knee implant manufacturer Zimmer, and chief of the knee service at one of the busiest joint replacement centers in the world (who has consulted for one of Zimmer’s chief competitor, the story notes)—a balanced group whose potential conflicts readers can judge for themselves. Unfortunately, the focused piece leaves out important information that would provide even more balance. For example, an extra sentence could have explained that knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that causes pain and impairs mobility in mostly older men and women. Moreover, all knee operations have potential harms (e.g. blood clots, infection, even death), and all require time for recovery. In part, that’s why some people choose to opt out. For those that do, there are reasonably effective nonsurgical options. Aside from these relatively minor caveats, however, this is a well done story.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story says the implant designed especially for women is “more expensive” (presumably in comparison to most other options) even though its cost-effectiveness remains unknown. Still, we wish the story included an actual cost estimate of the device and its implantation.  Readers aren’t given any idea of whether this is a ballpark of $200, $2,000 or $20,000.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The article explains that there is so far no independent data quantifying the benefits of the new Gender Knee implant for women.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

All patients who undergo knee replacement operations have a small risk of complications (e.g. blood clots, infection, even death). Does the new gender-specific knee implant increase or reduce these or other potential harms? The article does not pose this question. At the moment, no one knows the answer.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The news brief points out that there is so far no credible evidence to show whether the Gender Knee is as good as, better than, or worse than other artificial knees designed by competing manufacturers. Research is in the works, according to the report, but early results won’t be ready for another year or so. Though the article does not mention the scientific literature on the differences between men’s and women’s knees, it generally supports the manufacturer’s assertions reported in the article.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There are no obvious elements of disease-mongering. An extra sentence could have explained that knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition afflicting mostly older men and women.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

Three different sources fill out this compact story—a spokesperson for the medical society representing the nation’s orthopaedists, a spokesperson for knee implant manufacturer Zimmer, and chief of the knee service at one of the busiest joint replacement centers in the world (who has consulted for one of Zimmer’s chief competitor, the story notes)—a balanced group whose potential conflicts readers can judge for themselves.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story notes that other manufacturers make implants that may be just as good as or better than the Gender Knee for women. We wish the story had included an additional sentence on nonsurgical alternatives to remind readers that surgery is a matter of patient preference—and many patients choose to opt out.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story makes it clear that the Gender Knee is generally available to women who are candidates for total knee replacement.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The news brief explains that the Gender Knee is new, but asks whether it is really all that different from existing implants designed for smaller patients.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

No obvious use of text from the press release.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory

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