Frequent Questions About Knee Replacement Surgery

Why have knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery relieves pain and restores function to a severely damaged knee by replacing it with an artificial joint made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers. During the surgery, your surgeon removes worn-down bone and cartilage and replaces it with an artificial knee joint that replicates your knee’s natural rolling and gliding motion. Your surgeon will select the type of artificial knee that best matches your age, weight and activity level. 

Today, knee replacement is one of the safest and most successful types of major surgery; in about 90% of cases it is complication-free and can result in significant pain relief and restoration of mobility.

What is a total knee replacement?

The knee joint is the largest in the body. With total knee replacement, the parts of the bones that rub together are resurfaced with customized metal and plastic implants. Your orthopedic surgeon will typically remove the damaged surfaces of all three joint bones – the femur, tibia and patella – and replace them with specially-designed components that mimic your natural bone structure.

What happens before the surgery? 

In addition to a complete medical history, your doctor may perform a complete physical examination, including X-rays, to ensure you are in good health before undergoing surgery. In addition, you may also meet with a physical therapist to discuss rehabilitation after the surgery and undergo blood tests (or other tests). 

How is a knee replaced with an artificial knee? 

Although each procedure varies, generally, surgery to replace a knee usually lasts about two hours. After the damaged bone and cartilage of the knee is removed, the orthopedic surgeon will place the new artificial knee in its place.

In a typical total knee replacement the artificial implant (also called a prosthesis) replaces the diseased portion of the knee with four metal and plastic parts.

  • The tibial component (bottom portion) replaces the top of the lower leg bone, the tibia with two parts. It is made up of two parts: a metal tray that is attached directly to the bone and a polyethylene ( medical grade plastic) spacer that provides the bearing surface between the tibial and femoral components.
  • The femoral component (top portion) replaces the two femoral condyles and groove where the patella runs. The femoral component is made of metal.
  • The patellar component (kneecap portion) replaces the joint surface on the bottom of the patella that rubs against the femur in the femoral groove. 

While undergoing surgery, the patient may be under general anesthesia or awake with spinal or epidural anesthesia. 

What happens after knee surgery?

Knee replacement surgeries usually require an in-hospital stay of 2-3 days. Shortly after surgery, your team will have you up and moving. You'll start physical therapy exercises to begin regaining range of motion in your knee. Physical therapy will continue at home. Pain medication also will be administered to keep you comfortable. 

The incision will have stitches or staples that will be removed after a few weeks.

How soon can I return to normal activities after knee replacement surgery?

This varies for each person and depends upon your recovery. Our goal is to get you walking within 48 hours. By six weeks post-surgery, most patients are able to walk without a cane. You will probably feel well enough to drive a car within two months after surgery. In most cases, successful joint replacement surgery will relieve pain and stiffness, and allow you to resume many of your daily activities. Your orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist will evaluate you throughout your recovery to determine the level of activity you can perform and when.

How long will my knee replacement last?

This also varies for each person. There are several factors that determine the durability of your joint replacement. On average, a joint replacement lasts anywhere from 18 to 22 years.

To locate a specialist in knee replacement surgery, or to schedule an appointment, call MoBap at 314-996-3627 or email us.

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