Knee joint replacement is a surgical procedure performed by an orthopaedic surgeon to replace a damaged cartilage and bone of knee joint with a man-made artificial joint called prosthesis. Prosthesis can be made of metal, alloys, plastics, or polymers and will simulate the functioning of the knee. The selection of prosthetic knee depends upon the age, weight, activity level, and overall health of the patient.
The replacement procedure takes about two hours, but recovery and rehabilitation can last months.
Indications for knee joint replacement
Knee joint affected by chronic osteoarthritis
Knee joint affected by rheumatoid arthritis
Damaged knee due to injury or infection
Painful, stiff, and less functioning joint
Failure of less invasive or non-surgical treatment options
Knee joint replacement is performed in older patients above 55 years of age. In case younger patients opt for knee joint replacement, they may need to get it done again as the artificial joint lasts for approximately 15 years.
Knee Joint Replacement Procedure
The procedure is performed by an orthopaedic surgeon under general or regional anaesthesia and may last between one and two hours. A long incision (8-10 inches) is given above the knee and the skin and muscles are pulled back. Now the damaged cartilage and bone are cut and replaced with an artificial joint. The replacement is done using specialized cement, pins, and screws at the following places in the knee joint:
Lower end of the thigh bone (femur)
Upper end of the shin bone (tibia)
Back side of kneecap (patella)
After replacing the joint, the incision wound is closed with stitches and bandage. The procedure may take 2 hours or more depending upon the damage of knee joint. Patient is moved to recovery room for continuous monitoring.
Follow Up After Knee Joint Replacement
After surgery, patient may complain of pain that can be managed with medications. A day after surgery, patient is motivated to start walking and perform physical therapy to promote blood flow and faster healing of the tissues around the new knee. A short stay or regular visit to rehabilitation centre may be recommended to learn the activities that will help the patient to safely perform their daily activities.
Pain and other symptoms may go away in few weeks after the surgery but full recovery will take4 months to a year.
Outlook or Prognosis of Knee joint replacement
In most of the cases, patient experience decreased pain and increased motion after the knee replacement surgery. The results are often excellent as most people do not need any help while walking and performing other daily activities after being fully recovered from the surgery. These artificial joints last for almost 10 to 15 years before they become loose and need to be replaced again.