Knee Replacement Surgery
Knee replacement surgery (arthroplasty) involves replacing a damaged, worn or diseased knee with an artificial joint.
The most common reason for knee replacement surgery is osteoarthritis. Other conditions that cause knee damage include rheumatoid arthritis, haemophilia, gout or knee injury.
A knee replacement is recommended if other treatments, such as physiotherapy or steroid injections, haven’t helped reduce pain or improve mobility.
A knee replacement is normally performed under general anaesthetic. During the operation your existing knee joint is replaced with a new prosthetic knee joint. The operation takes up to two hours. Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) at the front of your knee where the replacement will be inserted. Usually, you will stay in hospital for 2-4 days, but you may have to stay longer if necessary.
There are two main types of surgery, depending on the condition of the knee:
• total knee replacement (TKR) – both sides of your knee joint are replaced
• partial (half) knee replacement (PKR) – only one side of your joint is replaced in a smaller operation with a shorter hospital stay and recovery period
Patients who have a half knee replacement usually have a shorter hospital stay.
What are the risks?
Knee replacement surgery is a common operation and most people do not experience complications. However, as with any operation, there are risks as well as benefits.
Complications are rare but can include:
• stiffness of the knee
• infection of the wound
• deep infection of the joint replacement, needing further surgery
• unexpected bleeding into the knee joint
• ligament, artery or nerve damage in the area around the knee joint
• blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
In some cases, the new knee joint may not be completely stable and further surgery may be needed to correct it. Ask your surgeon to explain how any complications might apply to you.