Knee replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a form of surgery that is performed to replace the weight-bearing surfaces of a degenerated knee joint in a bid to reduce pain and increase mobility. There are several conditions and factors that can lead to the damage of the articular surfaces of the knee, arthritis being one of the most common, especially osteoarthritis. However, knee replacement can be performed to manage other forms of arthritis as well such as rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. These conditions usually cause immense pain and inflammation and can even lead to deformities.
Basically, the surgery involves the replacement of damaged articular surfaces with a prosthesis. During the procedure, the surgeon exposes the knee joint by making an incision and detaching part of the quadriceps muscles from the patella and pushing the patella to the side. Once fully exposed the surgeon cuts the ends of the bones of the knee joint that is the femur and the tibia using cutting guides. The prosthesis, usually made of metal, is then attached to the ends of the bones using cement, and the joint reconstructed.
There are two types of knee replacement procedures depending on which parts of the knee joint are removed and replaced. They include:
- Total knee replacement (TKR): This form of knee arthroplasty is the most common and involves the replacement of both sides of the knee joint.
- Partial knee replacement (PKR): This form of knee replacement only replaces one side of the joint.
Possible Risks and Complications
All forms of surgery have some risks and complications, knee replacement included. One of the most serious complications following any surgical procedure is infection, especially due to poor wound care. Other complications include deep venous thrombosis which occurs as a result of prolonged periods of immobility. Accordingly, it is recommended that following any surgical procedure, the patient should ambulate as soon as possible. Some patients have experienced persistent pain or stiffness following the procedure and approximately 2% have reported prosthesis failure. Since the knee is a weight-bearing joint, it is usually advised that obese patients lose weight before the surgery can be performed.
Preparing for Surgery
In preparation for the surgery, a proper history of your current underlying condition will be documented for evaluation. It is important that you provide all the details, including any information on your current medication regimen.
Blood and urine samples will be taken for testing to ensure that you are hemodynamically stable with sufficient hemoglobin. The blood group is also tested so that you can quickly be transfused should the need arise.
Typically, a total knee replacement will take an estimated 2-3 hours after which you may need to stay in the hospital for several days. You will be prescribed medication to manage your pain. During your stay in the hospital, a physical therapist will have you up and about to get you started on your new, more mobile, life. This is particularly important for the prevention of deep venous thrombosis. At home, you will be required to avoid heavy lifting or standing for prolonged periods. You will likely use crutches or another device to offload weight from the affected knee for some time before you can resume normal activities.
Unmatched Experience and Ability
Surgery is typically a last resort option, after all other less invasive treatments and therapies have been exhausted. If your knee condition does require surgery, take heart in knowing that the doctors and specialists here at Pine Creek Medical Center combine unparalleled expertise and the latest medical technology in order to get you back to health faster.