Knee replacement is a surgical procedure in which the diseased part of the knee joint is replaced with an artificial implant or material. Conventionally, the knee replacement involves replacing the lower end of the thighbone (femur) and the upper end of the leg bone (Tibia) with or without replacement of the knee cap (patella).There are other variations in this surgery, and those options should be discussed with the patient with the treating surgeon. Since it is a complex procedure, it should always be done by an experienced and skilled orthopedic surgeon.
The doctors usually advise for knee replacement surgery when the patient cannot perform even the simplest movements due to the pain, swelling, and stiffness. Sometimes the pain is so severe that the knee hurts even in the night or in the resting position. In such conditions, it becomes difficult to control the pain by any non-surgical treatment or by weight loss.
Conditions for knee replacement surgery
The knee replacement surgery is recommended for the patients who are above the age of 50 years. Mostly, it is preferred to treat osteoarthritis. However, it is also advised in some other knee conditions, like;
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Avascular necrosis (Loss of blood circulation due to the death of the bone)
- Bone dysplasia (diseases related to the bone growth)
- Crystal Deposition
- Damage or any infection of the ligament which causes osteoarthritis
Before undergoing surgery
Before undergoing the knee replacement surgery, one must discuss with the doctor about all the pros and cons of the surgery. You should always think twice before heading to the surgery in some conditions. Some of these are:
- Health issues: If you have other health problems like cardiac disease, lung problem, diabetes, liver problem, or any blood-related illness, then tell your doctor, because any surgery with such health conditions can lead to higher complication rates. In cases, when the other illness is not curable, doctors can chart out a suitable surgery and post-surgery rehabilitation plan.
- Smoking: Several research studies have shown that smoking leads to higher complication rates after surgery. That is why it is important to discontinue smoking preferably much in advance of the impending surgery.
- Infection: If you have any other infection, like dental infection, then treat the infection first before the surgery, rather than postponing it. The presence of prior infection in the body can lead to infection in the replaced joint and other associated complications.
- Be sure: It is not necessary that every knee pain requires the surgery. Sometimes, knee pain may come from the other causes such as lower back pain and arthritis of the hip. So, discuss with your doctor and make sure whether you need the knee replacement or not. It is highly advisable that one takes a second opinion before undergoing a knee replacement surgery.
Benefits of Knee replacement surgery
According to research, it is estimated that 4 out 5 patients, who undergo knee replacement surgery, are benefitted with 100% satisfactory result after the surgery. The benefits of knee replacement surgery are:
- It gives you relief from the pain
- It improves the joint function
- It enhances the quality of life. You can walk and perform the normal activities easily.
Possible risks associated with the knee replacement surgery
Like other major surgeries, the knee replacement surgery also carries some post-operative risks. Some of the potential risks are:
- There are chances of post-operative infections and blood clot. The patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac issue, or poor immune system, are at higher risk of such problems. Usually, the surgeon gives some antibiotics and anticoagulants to prevent these complications.
- The patient may experience weakness and rigidity in the knee. So, it is important for them to maintain their physiotherapy based rehab schedule of exercise regularly, which can help them to gain the maximum motion.
- Loosening and dislocation of the implant is one of the rare complications, which may happen after 20 or more years. In such cases, a revision surgery may be needed.
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Author: Dr Mehjabin Ahmed
Reviewed by Col Dr Mathi Edwin Luther