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Knee joint replacement


Alternative Names:

Total knee replacement; Knee arthroplasty; Knee replacement - total; Tricompartmental knee replacement; Subvastus knee replacement; Knee replacement - minimally invasive; Knee arthroplasty - minimally invasive

Why the Procedure Is Performed:

The most common reason to have a knee joint replaced is to relieve severe arthritis pain. Your doctor may recommend knee joint replacement if:

  • You're having pain for knee arthritis that keeps you from sleeping or doing normal activities.
  • You can't walk and take care of yourself.
  • Your knee pain has not improved with other treatment.
  • You understand what surgery and recovery will be like.

Most of the time, knee joint replacement is done in people ages 60 and older. Younger people who have a knee joint replaced may put extra stress on the artificial knee and cause it to wear out early.

Before the Procedure:

Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.

During the 2 weeks before your surgery:

  • Prepare your home.
  • Two weeks before surgery you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), and other drugs.
  • You may also need to stop taking medicines that can make your body more likely to get an infection. These include methotrexate, Enbrel, or other medicines that suppress your immune system.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, or other medical conditions, your surgeon will ask you to see the doctor who treats you for these conditions.
  • Tell your doctor if you have been drinking a lot of alcohol, more than 1 or 2 drinks a day.
  • If you smoke, you need to stop. Ask your doctor or nurse for help. Smoking will slow down wound and bone healing. Your recovery may not be as good if you keep smoking.
  • Always let your doctor know about any cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or other illness you have before your surgery.
  • You may want to visit a physical therapist to learn some exercises to do before surgery.
  • Set up your home to make everyday tasks easier.
  • Practice using a cane, walker, crutches, or a wheelchair correctly.

On the day of your surgery:

  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 to 12 hours before the procedure.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
After the Procedure:

You will stay in the hospital for 3 to 4 days. During that time you will recover from your anesthesia and from the surgery itself. You will be asked to start moving and walking as soon as the first day after surgery.

Full recovery will take 4 months to a year.

Some people need a short stay in a rehabilitation center after they leave the hospital and before they go home. At a rehab center, you will learn how to safely do your daily activities on your own.

Outlook (Prognosis):

The results of a total knee replacement are often excellent. The operation relieves pain for most people. Most people do not need help walking after they fully recover.

Most artificial knee joints last 10 to 15 years. Some last as long as 20 years before they loosen and need to be replaced again.

References:

Mihalk WM. Arthroplasty of the knee. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 7.

Jones CA, Beaupre LA, Johnston DW, Suarez-Almazor ME. Total joint arthroplasties: current concepts of patient outcomes after surgery. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2007; 33(1):71-86.

Leopold SS. Minimally invasive total knee arthroplasty for osteoarthritis. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:1749-1758.


Review Date: 8/12/2013
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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