Total Knee Replacement Surgery

What is a total knee replacement?

A total knee replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a safe and effective surgical procedure that treats pain and disability in the knee. It is typically required when nonsurgical treatments such as medication or walking aids are no longer effective, and the patient finds it painful or difficult to do simple activities like walking or climbing stairs.

The procedure involves replacing the damaged knee joint with an artificial joint (prosthesis) made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers.

When should patients consider a total knee replacement?

patients whose knee joints have been damaged by either progressive arthritis, trauma, or other rare destructive diseases of the joint can consider a total knee replacement surgery. Your orthopaedic surgeon will assess your knee’s range of motion, stability and strength. A knee replacement helps to relieve pain, correct leg deformity, and help the patient resume normal activities.

What happens in a knee replacement surgery?

  • The damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) are removed along with a small amount of underlying bone.
  • The removed cartilage and bone are replaced with metal components that recreate the surface of the joint. These metal parts may be cemented or “press-fit” into the bone.
  • The undersurface of the patella (kneecap) is cut and resurfaced with a plastic button. Some surgeons do not resurface the patella, depending upon the case.
  • A medical-grade plastic spacer is inserted between the metal components to create a smooth gliding surface.

What are the risks involved in a total knee replacement?

As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Some possible complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood clots in the legs or lungs
  • Loosening or wearing out of the prosthesis
  • Fracture
  • Continued pain or stiffness

The complication rate following a total knee replacement is low. Serious complications, such as a knee joint infection, occur in fewer than 2% of patients. However uncommon these complications may be, they can prolong or limit full recovery should they occur.

You should discuss any concerns thoroughly with your orthopaedic surgeon prior to surgery.