Editorial Staff and Contributors
Related Media: Total Knee Replacement
Knee replacement, also called arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace a knee damaged by disease or injury.
Recovery may take several weeks to months depending on your overall health.
This is done if you have chronic pain and stiffness in the knee joint that limits activities.
Knee replacement surgery is most often done to:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Before surgery, you will need to:
Talk to your doctor about any medications, herbs, or supplements you are taking. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before your surgery, unless told otherwise by your doctor.
Anesthesia will keep you pain-free and comfortable during the procedure. You will havegeneral anesthesia and an area in your lower body will be numbed with an injection.
A cut will be made in your skin. The damaged cartilage and bone will be removed. The remaining bone will be prepared to receive the new joint made from material such as plastic and metal. The artificial joint will be placed in the proper position. It may be cemented within the bone. The incision will be closed with staples. A drain will be left in to allow extra fluid to flow out.
About 2 hours.
Anesthesia will block pain during the procedure. You will have pain after the procedure. Ask your doctor about medication to help manage pain.
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 3-4 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
Right after the procedure, you will be taken to recovery and monitored closely. The staff may give you:
While you are recovering at the hospital, you may need to use a continuous passive motion machine, which is designed to:
During your recovery, you will need to:
To help ensure a smooth recovery at home, take these steps:
Within six weeks, you should be able to go back to light activities and driving. You may feel a soft clicking in the joint when walking or bending. Continue to work with the physical therapist. Water-based exercises may help to improve joint pain, swelling around the knee, and range of motion.
Antibiotics may be needed before certain dental procedures or surgeries now that you have an artificial joint. This will prevent possible infections from entering the bloodstream. Make sure to let the dentist or doctor know that you have an artificial joint.
Call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Knee replacement surgery procedure. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Available at:
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/orthopaedic/knee_replacement_surgery_procedure_92,P07673/. Accessed February 28, 2014.
Total knee arthroplasty. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 6, 2014. Accessed February 28, 2014.
Total knee replacement.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00389. Updated December 2011. Accessed February 28, 2014.
4/16/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Harmer AR, Naylor JM, Crosbie J, Russell T. Land-based versus water-based rehabilitation following total knee replacement: a randomized, single-blind trial.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Am J Med.
9/16/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Abdallah FW, Chan VW, et al. The analgesic effects of proximal, distal, or no sciatic nerve block on posterior knee pain after total knee arthroplasty: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Anesthesiology. 2014 Aug 5. [Epub ahead of print].
Last reviewed February 2014 by Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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