Knee Replacement - Outpatient

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 pieces to the underside of the kneecap

There are times when only one part 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 (for example, walking, household tasks, and bathing).

  • In most cases, total knee replacements are performed in people over the age of 60.
  • If a knee is replaced in a younger person, there is increased risk that it will not last the patient's life and additional surgery will be required.

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 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 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 awake during surgery, but will not feel anything below your waist).
  • Depending on the nature of your specific condition and health, your doctor may feel that your knee replacement surgery may be safely done as an outpatient procedure.
  • 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.

This care path includes the cost of a total knee replacement done as an outpatient. If you require an inpatient stay your costs will be higher.

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?
  • Do you perform outpatient knee replacements? Is outpatient surgery an option for me?
  • What type of recovery should I expect and how long will it take?
  • What types of rehab services will I need after surgery?

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 also let your primary care physician know the details of your surgery and treatment plan.


Also known as:

Total Knee Replacement
Replacing Knee
Repair Knee
Knee Replacement - Outpatient
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