Total Knee Replacement

What is a Total Knee Replacement?

A Total Knee Replacement is a surgical procedure to replace a damaged or diseased knee joint with a metal and plastic prosthetic joint.

Who Needs Knee Replacement Surgery?

Total Knee Replacement surgery is performed when a knee joint is too damaged and painful to allow the person to perform necessary activities and has not responded to all other treatments. This surgery is generally performed in people over age 50 with severe osteoarthritis.

How is Total Knee Replacement done?

Total Knee Replacement may be performed under general anesthesia (where the person is asleep) or under spinal anesthesia (when the person is numb below the waist). During a Total Knee Replacement surgery an incision is made in front of the knee and then the damaged part of the joint is removed and the surface is then shaped and replaced with a metal or plastic joint. The artificial joint is attached to the bone with special cement. The attached artificial joint is supported by the surrounding muscles and ligaments.

What happens after Knee Replacement Surgery?

The average person is hospitalized for 3-5 days after Knee Joint Replacement surgery. The person usually needs to use crutches, a walker or cane initially for support. Most people recover over four to six weeks after surgery. By six weeks, most people can walk comfortably without assistance. Muscle strength is restored with physical therapy and the new joint is pain free and allows people to enjoy most activities (except running and jumping).

Precautions after Knee Replacement Surgery

After Knee Replacement surgery, the patient should not pivot or twist the leg for at least six weeks. During that time, the knee should be kept as straight as possible. Kneeling and squatting should also bee avoided just after knee joint replacement surgery.

The physical therapist will provide you with techniques to recover and return to good guidelines functioning after surgery

Risks & complications

There are possible risks and complications associated with knee joint replacement:

  • Infection requiring antibiotics and in some cases hospitalization
  • Blood clot in the leg (deep vein thrombosis), which can dislodge and move to the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Injury to nerves or blood vessels
  • Loosening or dislocation of the prosthetic device
  • Joint stiffness
  • Heart or lung complications

Risks can be reduced by following the surgeon's instructions before and after surgery.

Candidate eligibility

An internal medicine doctor will perform thorough pre-operative evaluation to determine if the patient is medically stable to have the surgery and to develop a plan to prevent complications. The surgeon will decide if the patient is an appropriate candidate for knee replacement surgery.

How long will my new Knee Joint last?

The average artificial joint lasts at least 10 years and now 85% of joint implants last 20 years or longer. Improvements in surgical techniques, modern technology and artificial joint materials should make these artificial joints last even longer.

How long will I need physical therapy after Knee Replacement?

The average patient needs to stay in the hospital from 5-10 days. When a patient is sent home they will continue with out-patient physical therapy. There will also be home exercises the patient needs to do. Each patient is different and has underlying medical conditions which determine the length of stay and length of rehabilitation.