Frequently asked questions about knee replacement surgery

Did you know that knee replacement surgery is also known as knee arthroplasty? Whether or not you did know that, there are many other frequently asked questions about knee replacement surgery the answers to which you may or may not know.


Frequently asked questions about knee replacement surgery

1.       What is knee replacement surgery?

This is a surgical procedure in which heavily damaged, injured, or diseased knee joints are replaced with an artificial joints made with metal alloys, high-grade plastics, and polymers.

2.       Why is knee replacement surgery performed?

This surgery is often done to relieve osteoarthritis-related pain in the knee, which may occur while walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs, or even at rest. Other reasons to undergo this surgery include rheumatoid arthritis and post-traumatic arthritis.

3.       What are the benefits of knee replacement surgery?

·         Pain relief.

·         Improved mobility.

·         Better quality of life.

·         Shopping, light housekeeping, and most daily activities (3-6 weeks following surgery).

·         Driving (at about 3 weeks after surgery if the patient can bend the knee far enough to sit in a car and has enough muscle control to operate brakes and accelerator; or, when authorized by doctors).

·         Walking, swimming, golfing, biking, and other low-impact activities – but not jogging, skiing, tennis and other high-impact activities involving contact or jumping.

4.       What are the types of knee replacement surgery?

·         Total knee replacement involves the replacement of both sides of the joint. It is the most common procedure and lasts 1-3 hours, while the replacement may last 15-20 years. Leaves scar tissue, resulting in some difficulty in moving and bending the knees.
Partial knee replacement is done when only one side of the joint is replaced. It does not last as long as a total replacement. Less bone is removed, and the incision is smaller. Suitable for around 1 in 4 people with osteoarthritis. Post-operative rehabilitation is simpler with less blood loss, lower risk of infection and blood clots. Generally includes a shorter hospitalization and recovery period, and often results in more natural movement in the knee. Most patients are able to be up and about after their operation more rapidly.

5.       What are the types of artificial knee joints?

·         Cemented prostheses attach to the bone with surgical cement.

·         Uncemented prostheses attach to the bone with a porous surface onto which the bone grows to attach to the prosthesis.

·         a combination of the two may be used.

6.       What are the potential risks associated with knee replacement surgery?

  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Blood clots in the leg vein or lungs.
  • Loosening or wearing out of the prosthesis.
  • Fracture.
  • Continued pain or stiffness.
  • Nerves or blood vessels in the area of surgery may be damaged, resulting in weakness or numbness.
  • The joint pain may not be relieved by surgery.
  • The replacement joint may become loose, dislodged, or may not work as intended.
  • The joint may have to be replaced again in the future.
  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.
  • Ligament and artery damage.
  • Allergic reaction to surgical cement.
  • Excess bone forming around the artificial joint.
  • Instability of the knee cap resulting in painful dislocation to the outer side of the knee.
  • Loss of motion.
  • Stiffness.

7.       What happens to an infected knee replacement?

Surgery will be required to remove the artificial joint and kill the bacteria with antibiotics. Yet another surgical procedure will be needed to replace the replacement joint. Each surgery decreases the chances of a positive outcome that relieves pain.

8.       Can artificial knee joints wear out?

Even the sturdiest metals and plastics wear out with everyday use, especially if the joint is subjected to high-impact activities and excessive weight.

9.       What happens before knee replacement injury?

  • The doctor will explain the procedure to and offer the opportunity to ask any questions about the procedure.
  • The patient is asked to sign a consent form giving permission to do the procedure.
  • The doctor takes a complete medical history, and may perform a complete physical examination ensure the patient is healthy enough before undergoing the procedure.
  • The patient will be asked to fast for eight hours before the procedure, generally after midnight.

10.   What should the doctor know about before surgery?

  • Sensitivity or allergy to any medications, latex, tape, and anesthetic agents (local and general).
  • all medications (prescribed and over-the-counter) and herbal supplements the patient is taking, including anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications, aspirin, or other medications that affect blood clotting.
  • A history of bleeding disorders.
  • Pregnancy.

11.   What happens during knee replacement surgery?

The patient must remove clothing and wear a gown. An intravenous line may be started in the arm or hand, as well as a urinary catheter. An orthopedic surgeon bends the patient’s knee so as to expose all surfaces of the joint, makes a 6-10 inch long incision, removes the patella (kneecap), and cuts away damaged bone and cartilage. He or she then attaches the parts of the artificial joint (in the lower end of the thigh bone, upper end of the shin bone, or backside of the kneecap), and tests the knee by rotating and bending it before stitching the incision closed and bandaged or dressed. General and regional anesthesia are both possibilities; in either case, the anesthesiologist will continuously monitor heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and blood oxygen level.

12.   What happens after knee replacement surgery?

·         The patient is wheeled to a recovery room for a couple of hours, and then to his or her hospital room for one or two days.

·         A physical therapist teaches the patient to exercise the new knee on the day after surgery.

·         The patient is encouraged to move the foot and ankle while in the hospital to promote circulation and prevent swelling and blood clots.

·         The patient may be administered blood thinners or be given support or compression footwear.

·         The patient might need crutches or a walker during the weeks or months of recovery following discharge from the hospital to prevent falls and improve balance.

13.   How to create a safe home environment for recovery after knee replacement surgery?

  • Limit living space to one floor since climbing stairs can be difficult.
  • Install grab bars or a secure handrail in the shower or bath.
  • Secure stairway handrails.
  • Get a stable chair with a firm seat cushion and back, and a footstool to elevate the leg.
  • Buy a toilet-seat riser with arms if you have a low toilet.
  • Try a shower bench or chair, long-handled sponge and shower hose, dressing stick, sock aid, long-handled shoe horn, reaching stick, and other daily living home care medical supplies.
  • Remove loose rugs and cords.
  • Keep the surgery site clean and dry. Follow doctor’s recommendations regarding bathing.
  • Apply ice on the knee to reduce swelling.
  • Not bending or lifting heavy things.
  • Not stand still for long periods.
  • Take prescribed medications as instructed.

14.   What should the doctor know about after surgery?

Signs of infection such as fever higher than 100 F, shaking chills, drainage from surgery site, redness, tenderness, swelling, and pain in the knee.

15.   Are there alternatives to knee replacement surgery?

·         Kneecap replacement.

·         Mini-incision surgery.

·         Image-guided surgery.

·         Arthroscopic washout and debridement.

·         Osteotomy.

·         Autologous chondrocyte implantation.


Related: Universal Size Open Patella Knee Brace for Osteoarthritis