A knee replacement is a common surgery that involves replacing a worn-out, damaged or diseased knee joint with an artificial joint. This procedure can be performed on adults of all ages but is usually carried out on patients between the age of 60 and 80 years.
When is a Knee Replacement Surgery Needed?
A knee replacement surgery may be needed in cases where the joint’s mobility is reduced or when moving the knee becomes too painful. The most common reasons why this surgery may be needed include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Disorders causing abnormal bone growth
- Injury to the knee
- Loss of cartilage
- Knee deformity
- Blood supply issues that cause the death of the bone in the knee joint
Preparing for a Knee Replacement Surgery
It is important for patients to stay as active as possible before undergoing this procedure. Strengthening the muscles around the joint will help speed up the recovery process. You should notify your doctor about any medication you’re taking for underlying conditions and anything you might be allergic to.
Patients need to be admitted for this procedure. The exact nature of the procedure varies on the basis of the patient’s condition and doctor’s practice preferences.
- A knee replacement surgery is typically performed while the patient is under general anesthesia.
- The procedure involves making an incision in the knee joint, removing the damaged parts of the joint and resurfacing it with a prosthesis. This prosthesis may be made out of plastic or metal and attached to the bone with surgical cement. Uncemented prostheses are rarely used today.
- The incision is then closed with surgical staples or stitches. A drain may be placed to keep fluid from building up in the joint.
- The joint will then be dressed with a sterile bandage.
The patient will need to be hospitalized for 3 to 5 days after the procedure. The surgical area must be kept clean and dry. Elevating the leg can help reduce swelling. After being discharged, the patient will need to follow physical therapy exercises and use a frame or crutch to move around. Patients can usually start walking without aid after 6 weeks and may start driving soon after this. Full recovery can take up to 2 years but some people may continue to have pain even after this.
This is a common surgery with rare complications but there are certain risks the patient must be aware of before opting for the surgery. These are:
- Stiffness of the knee joint
- Unexpected bleeding
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Persistent pain in the joint
- Break in the bone during or after the procedure
- Damage to the nerve, artery or ligament
In some cases, further surgery may be needed to stabilize the joint.
A knee replacement surgery is typically advised only after other forms of treatment such as steroid injections or physiotherapy have proven ineffectual. Alternate options for a knee replacement surgery include an osteotomy, arthroscopic washout, and debridement and a mosaicplasty.