Knee replacement surgery commonly referred to as knee arthroplasty is the most commonly performed joint replacement procedure. In the United States, more than a half 1 million knee replacement surgical procedures are performed every year.
This surgery is performed to treat the defects of knee cartilage caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or another disease, damage, deformity or injury.
Knee replacement surgery consists of two main procedures: Total knee replacement (TKR) in which both sides of your knee joint are replaced with artificial parts (prostheses), and partial (half) knee replacement (PKR) in which only one side of your joint is replaced in a smaller operation. The average total knee replacement cost in the US is $49,500. A partial knee replacement generally costs about 10 to 20 percent less than a total knee replacement. But there are much more affordable cost alternatives in the European cities such as Turkey, Poland, UK, and Lithuania.
In this article, we will focus on the general facts of total knee replacement surgery, including its candidacy requirements, procedure details, recovery, and outcomes.
When Is Total Knee Replacement Necessary?
You may have a number of reasons to undergo this surgery:
- If you have severe pain and stiffness which makes it hard for you to walk, climb stairs, or even stand up from a chair.
- If your knee pain bothers you while resting, even during sleeping.
- If your knee is often swollen.
- If your knee is bowed or has other defects which is easily seen.
- If the initial treatments like physical therapy and medication haven’t helped.
If you have at least one of these complaints, apart from the other general surgical candidacy requirement such as not being overweight or not consuming excessive alcohol and anything else that your surgeon seeks for, you probably in need of a total knee replacement surgery.
Candidates for Total Knee Replacement
When the pain in the knee region becomes unbearable, and there is no other alternative remedy for the patient's complications, total knee replacement procedure should be considered.
Individuals who suffer from obesity, clotting or infectious diseases, cancer, muscle weakness or any problems related to heart, kidney, and lungs are not suitable for total knee replacement.
Although knee replacement surgeries have become so much common, there are still risks as in every surgical procedure. Fortunately, over 90% of patients who undergo knee replacement surgery have good results, without any complications. However, before undergoing a total knee replacement surgery, you need to understand the potential risks such as blood clots, blood loss, infection or stiffness of a knee replacement. This is another important requirement of being a good candidate.
How Is Total Knee Replacement Performed?
Knee joint replacement is performed under general anesthesia, and it takes 1 to 2 hours. During the surgery, your surgeon usually makes an 8- to 10-inch cut in the front of the knee. Then removes the damaged part of the joint and the surfaces of the thigh bone. Once the removal part is done, the surgeon implants the artificial knee. Or your surgeon may use a minimally invasive surgical technique, in which the cut is shorter as around 4 to 6 inches, and this will result in less damage to muscle and tendon. Generally, thin, young, and healthy patients are a good candidate for this technique.
What to Expect After Total Knee Replacement?
After the procedure is done, the patients usually need to stay in the hospital for around 5 days. During this time, the physician may prescribe some painkillers to release the pain. Post operatory pain is very common after the surgery. The orthopedic surgeon can also prescribe other medications to prevent some complications such as blood clots. The patients can stop taking their medications only at the doctor’s recommendation. In 3-6 weeks, you may shop for groceries, get up from a chair easily, and do many things that were difficult to do before the surgery. You should let your doctor know about any pain or discomfort that bothers you.
Recovery After Total Knee Replacement
- After knee replacement surgery, you will be able to walk in 1 or 2 days. Most patients will completely recover in about 6 weeks. This means they can perform their daily activities, but in the beginning, they will need to use walking equipment. During the total knee replacement recovery time, it is important to take some precautions to prevent knee injuries.
- In total knee replacement, x-rays are often taken in early post-operative. Patient mobilization may be a little belated until these x-rays are delivered.
- The stitches will take several weeks to heal. To help with the healing process, the patients need to keep them dry and avoid clothes friction by applying medical bandages. A healthy diet is also highly recommended in the recovery period.
- Rehabilitation begins immediately after your knee replacement surgery. You are going to work with a physical therapist as soon as the surgical procedure has been performed. The main purpose in the early stages of the rehab process is to maintain motion of the new knee replacement and make sure that the patient can walk safely.
- In most cases, the patient's new implants last for around 20 years. It is possible to use the new prosthesis for a long period by simply paying attention to your general health and knee health. It can be stated that 90% of people are satisfied with the results of total knee replacement.
This content is edited by Flymedi Medical Editors in April 2019.