Knee Replacement

This surgery replaces the major parts of the knee joint with a man-made or artificial joint, called a prosthesis.

This surgery replaces the major parts of the knee joint with a man-made or artificial joint, called a prosthesis.

A total knee replacement is the replacement of the major parts of the knee joint with man-made pieces of metal and plastic. The three parts replaced are:

  • The lower end of the large bone in the top of the leg (femur)
  • The upper end of the larger bone in the bottom part of the leg (tibia)
  • The back side of the kneecap (patella).

Replacing the knee joint involves:

  • Shaping the lower end of the femur and upper end of the tibia so they fit the artificial pieces your surgeon has chosen
  • Connecting the two artificial pieces to the lower end of the femur and upper end of the tibia
  • Preparing the underside of the kneecap
  • Connecting the artificial piece to the underside of the kneecap

There are times when only a portion of the knee joint needs to be replaced. This is called a partial knee replacement.

A total knee replacement may be recommended if you have severe arthritic pain that has not responded to treatment and stops you from doing your normal daily activities (walking, household tasks, and bathing).

  • Total knee replacements are commonly performed in people over the age of 60.
  • If a knee is replaced in a younger person, there is increased concern that it will not last the patient's life.

Prior to surgery, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before surgery. These may include:

  • Medications you should not take before the surgery, such as blood thinners or aspirin
  • Regular medications you should continue to take on the day of your surgery
  • How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before surgery
  • How to prepare your home for your return after you are discharged
  • Instructions on getting around with a cane, walker or crutches

If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery.

During your surgery, you will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free.

  • General type anesthesia is where you are put into a deep sleep and are unable to see, hear or feel anything.
  • Spinal type anesthesia is when you are given an injection of numbing medication into your back and a relaxing medication in your intravenous line. You will be drowsy during surgery, but will not feel anything below your waist.
  • You will probably need to stay in the hospital for several days to recover from the surgery. However, depending on the nature of your specific condition and health, your knee replacement may be able to be done as an outpatient procedure.
  • Most patients are able to go directly home from the hospital after surgery.
  • After surgery your treatment will typically involve exercise and physical therapy.
  • Pain medication and help at home will be needed while you complete your recovery.

Do not forget to make arrangements for transportation to and from the facility and help at home.

What should I ask my healthcare provider before having a total knee replacement?

  • What is my diagnosis and reason for the surgery? Are there any less invasive treatments or procedures? If so, what kind?
  • What are the pros and cons of the surgery?
  • What kind of sedation will I have? What are the possible side effects?
  • How will this surgery affect my daily life?
  • What are the possible complications to the surgery?
  • What type of recovery should I expect and how long will it take?

After your surgery, you should know what you had done, what medication was given, and what symptoms you should report to your healthcare provider. You should also understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans. Your surgeon should let your primary care physician know the details of your surgery and treatment plan.


Also known as:

Total Knee Replacement
Replacing Knee
Repair Knee
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