Total Knee Replacement
What is total knee replacement?
Knee replacement surgery is also known as Total Knee Arthroplasty. (or TKA). The surgery involves resurfacing the ends of the bones with artificial implant material made of metal and hard plastic. One should think of knee replacement as a resurfacing of the joint rather than replacement of the whole joint. Typically, a thin (less than 1 cm) layer of cartilage and underlying bone is removed and replaced with the prosthesis. The components of the prosthesis are fixed to the bone by acrylic bone cement which is immediately hardened during the surgery.
Are there other types of knee replacement surgeries?
A person may be a candidate for a partial knee replacement. This involves replacing only a portion of the knee joint which has the arthritis. Ask your surgeon if you are a candidate for this procedure.
What are the benefits?
Many patients experience long lasting benefits after knee replacement surgery. Joint pain is significantly reduced or completely gone. A person may look forward to being able to move the joint more freely and having more mobility than prior to surgery. Deformities of the knee joint are corrected and one is able to strengthen the leg with exercise. Most of all, quality of life improves as one is able to return to regular activities.
What are the risks?
There are some risks common to all types of surgery (ie, anesthetic risks or risks from medical problems) as well as risks unique to knee replacement surgery. Complications related to knee surgery include but are not inclusive to infection, bleeding, nerve injury, tendon injury, blood clot formation, leg length inequality and fracture. Long term complications include implant loosening and implant wear. The risks of the problems are small (approximately 5%) and are usually correctable.
How long does knee replacement surgery?
Most knee replacements will last a life time. However, it should be remembered that the implant is a mechanical device inside the body. Therefore, it is subject to loosening, wearing out, infection and other unforseen events. Age and activity level of the individual will affect longevity of the knee replacement. Studies have shown that modern knee replacement have a 90% chance of remaining functional after 10 years and 80% after 20 years.
How do I know if I am a candidate for knee replacement surgery?
Knee replacement surgery is typically indicated for individuals who no longer benefit from non-surgical treatments such as medications, therapy, walking aids, injections and activity modification. When the pain is significant and quality of life is diminished, surgery should be considered. However, if you are relatively young, knee replacement may not be the best choice and other surgical options may be considered.
Total knee replacement procedure
How long does surgery last
Approximately 1 to 3 hours, depending on the condition of your knee at the time of surgery.
How long does it take to recover after surgery?
By 6 weeks you should be feeling well but you will still experience discomfort, swelling and warmth around the incision site. After this time, return to normal daily activities is appropriate. Driving can commence at 4 to 6 weeks. Fully recovery often occurs between 6 months and 1 year although many patients return to recreation and their normal lifestyle by 3 to 6 months.
When will the swelling the warmth subside?
You may have significant swelling and warmth around the knee for 6 weeks after surgery. This will gradually decrease, but it may take six months to a year for the swelling to completely resolve.
Why does my knee click?
The implants in your knee are made of metal and plastic. The components will separate slightly with gravity and when you swing your knee to walk. The clicking sound may be heard as the components come into contact. It usually subsides with time and it does not mean the components are loose or broken.
When does the tape come off my wound?
At the time of surgery, strips of tape (called “steri-strips”) may be placed on your incision to protect it. These will eventually come off on their one in one to two weeks or you may remove them yourself after two weeks.
Do I need an x-ray at every year if my knee feels fine?
Yes, X-rays are an important part of each follow-up visit and essential in determining the implant positioning, implant wear and the condition of your bone around the implant. X-rays assure us that there are no problems developing.
When will I be able to return to work?
Generally, for desk jobs you can resume work after 4 to 6 weeks. For active labor, you can return after 3 to 6 months.
Will the implant set off metal detectors at airports?
Usually not, but if you desire, the clinic can provide you with a card that documents your knee replacement.
Our patients who recovered from surgery?