Knee Replacement

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Knee replacement surgery (also called arthroplasty) is a routine surgical procedure for people with damaged, worn or diseased knee joints. It involves removing the damaged knee joint and replacing it with an artificial joint, made from hard plastic, ceramic or metal.

There are two types of knee replacement surgery, determined by the extent and severity of the damage to your knee joint:

  • Total knee replacement involves replacing both sides of the knee joint with an artificial implant.
  • Partial knee replacement involves only replacing one side of the joint.

What is knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery involves replacing the joint with an artificial implant. The procedure is used to treat severe pain, swelling and stiffness in the knee. There are many different types of implant and Prof Queally will choose one that provides you with the best chance of restoring movement and relieving pain.

Who may benefit

Knee replacement surgery is commonly used to treat severe knee pain that is interfering with everyday activities and having a detrimental impact on quality of lie. This may be caused by a range of conditions, including:

  • Osteoarthritis – this is caused by the cartilage, which lines the knee joint, wearing away which can result in bone rubbing against bone, causing pain and stiffness. It is sometimes called wear and tear arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – this is an autoimmune condition that causes the body’s immune system, which normally protects against infection, to attack the joint lining.
  • Knee injury
  • Knee deformity
  • Gout – this is a form of arthritis which is caused by a build up of uric acid in the blood which results in small crystals forming in the joints
  • Haemophilia

What to expect

Knee replacement surgery is normally performed under general anaesthetic (which means you will be asleep throughout) although some people may be offered an epidural, which numbs you from the waist down.

In total knee replacement, both sides of the knee joint are replaced. After making an incision in the skin above your knee, the kneecap is moved to one side and the damaged ends of your thigh bone and shin bone are cut away. The ends are measured and a correctly sized implant is fitted in the gap. The back of the knee cap may also need to be replaced in some cases.

In partial knee replacement, only the damaged section of knee is removed and replaced with an artificial implant. The incision used is smaller and recovery times are faster than with total knee replacement.

Contact us

For evidence-based orthopaedic care you can trust, make contact for an initial consultation.

Patient Outcomes

Knee replacement surgery can reduce severe knee pain and restore lost mobility. The procedure is normally offered to older people, as artificial implants may wear more quickly in people who are younger and more active. However, it can achieve positive outcomes for people of any age and there is some evidence that replacing the knee joint before it is very stiff may produce better results.

You will normally be encouraged to get up and about within 12-24 hours of surgery and will be able to go home up to three days after surgery. At first you will need to use a mobility aid – crutches or a walker – to support you but you should be able to walk with sticks around a week after surgery. You will see a physiotherapist who will recommend exercises to build strength and help you to protect your new knee.

You should be able to resume most everyday activities within six weeks however it may take three months for the pain to completely go away. Some swelling can persist for up to a year and it can be two years before your knee is fully recovered. Although you will be able to lead a normal life after surgery you will be advised to avoid certain sports, such as skiing or mountain biking, which have a high risk of falls.

Most implants last around 15 years after which time you may need to have knee revision surgery, which may be slightly less effective than the original knee replacement.

If you have a partial knee replacement, you will normally have a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery times. However, outcomes may not always be as good as with total knee replacement and the implant may not last as long.

Risks of knee replacement surgery

Knee replacement surgery is a routine procedure however it carries a small risk of complications. These include:

  • Infection of the wound or implant which may require surgery.
  • Blood clots which can lead to deep vein thrombosis
  • Nerve, artery or ligament damage.
  • Bleeding in the knee joint
  • Stiffness of the knee
For evidence-based orthopaedic care you can trust, make contact for an initial consultation.