(Knee Arthroplasty; Total Knee Replacement)
DefinitionKnee replacement, also called arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace a knee damaged by disease or injury.Recovery may take several weeks to months depending on your overall health.
|Total Knee Replacement|
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Reasons for ProcedureThis is done if you have chronic pain and stiffness in the knee joint that limits activities.Knee replacement surgery is most often done to:
- Ease knee pain and disability due to arthritis or previous severe knee injury
- Correct a knee deformity
Possible ComplicationsProblems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Excess bleeding
- Blood clots
- Chronic weakness in knee joint
- Worsening or unchanged pain
- Poor nutrition
- History of blood clots
- Long-term illness
- Use of certain medications
What to Expect
Prior to ProcedureYour doctor will likely do the following:
- Arrange for a ride home.
- Arrange for help at home while you recover.
- Talk to your doctor about any allergies you have.
- Ask your doctor about assist devices you will need.
- If you are overweight, lose weight. This will help to decrease the amount of stress on your new joint.
- Install safety equipment in the bathroom, shower, and on the stairs.
- Prepare a bedroom on the first floor if possible. Climbing stairs will be difficult at first.
AnesthesiaAnesthesia will keep you pain-free and comfortable during the procedure. General anesthesia will keep you asleep during the procedure. Regional anesthesia will number the lower part of the body.
Description of the ProcedureA cut will be made in your skin. The damaged cartilage and bone will be removed. The remaining bone will be prepared to receive the new joint made from material such as plastic and metal. The artificial joint will be placed in the proper position. It may be cemented within the bone. The incision will be closed with staples. A drain will be left in to allow extra fluid to flow out.
How Long Will It Take?About 2 hours.
How Much Will It Hurt?Anesthesia will block pain during the procedure. You will have pain after the procedure. Ask your doctor about medication to help manage pain.
Average Hospital StayThis procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 3-4 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
Post-procedure CareAt the HospitalRight after the procedure, you will be taken to recovery and monitored closely. The staff may give you:
- Pain medication
- Antibiotics to prevent infection
- Medication that prevents blood clots
- Slowly move your knee
- Restore function
- Decrease swelling
- Improve circulation
- Move your foot and ankle to increase blood flow back to your heart.
- Wear support stockings. These may help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs.
- Work with a physical therapist. You may start the day after surgery. You will learn safe ways to move your knee and support your weight.
- You will learn how to use a walker, crutches, or other support devices.
- Start working with a physical therapist once you are instructed to. The therapist will focus on balance, range-of-motion, and strength training.
- Maintain a healthy weight after surgery.
Call Your DoctorCall your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Swelling, redness, or pain in your legs, calves, or feet
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- A chalky white, blue, or black appearance in your leg, foot, or toes
- Numbness or tingling in your leg, foot, or toes
- Pain, burning, urgency, frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urine
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Knee replacement surgery procedure. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test%5Fprocedures/orthopaedic/knee%5Freplacement%5Fsurgery%5Fprocedure%5F92,P07673/. Accessed March 4, 2015.
Total knee arthroplasty. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 29, 2015. Accessed March 4, 2015.
Total knee replacement. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00389. Updated December 2011. Accessed March 4, 2015.
4/16/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Harmer AR, Naylor JM, Crosbie J, Russell T. Land-based versus water-based rehabilitation following total knee replacement: a randomized, single-blind trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2009;61:184-191.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
9/16/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Abdallah FW, Chan VW, et al. The analgesic effects of proximal, distal, or no sciatic nerve block on posterior knee pain after total knee arthroplasty: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Anesthesiology. 2014 Aug 5. [Epub ahead of print].
- Reviewer: Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT
- Review Date: 03/2015
- Update Date: 09/16/2014