Knee replacement surgery is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries. Over 600,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed every year in the United States.
With most performed on patients aged between 50 and 80 years.
What is knee replacement surgery?
Knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace a damaged knee joint to relieve pain and restore function.
The surgery involves removing damaged bone and cartilage from the ends of your thigh bone (femur) and shinbone (tibia) and replacing it with metal and plastic components.
In some cases, the undersurface of the kneecap (patella) is also cut and resurfaced with a plastic button.
Types of knee replacement surgery
Knee surgery can either be partial or total depending on how damaged your knee is.
- Total knee replacement (TKR): Tkr surgery involves replacing both sides of your knee joint. It is the most common procedure and takes one to three hours. While it relieves pain and improves mobility, you’re still likely to have some difficulty moving and bending your knee due to the scar tissue.
- Partial knee replacement (PKR): PKR involves replacing one side of the knee joint. Less bone is removed compared to a total replacement, so the incision is smaller. The hospital stay and recovery period are also shorter, and blood transfusions are rarely needed. Moreover, the operation often results in more natural knee movement.
Reasons for knee replacement surgery
The most common reason for arthroscopic knee surgery is osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs when joint cartilage breaks down, limiting movement and causing pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis caused by a knee injury may also damage the knee joint. You may require knee replacement surgery if:
- You have difficulty walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of a chair.
- Physical therapy and other relevant medical treatments haven’t worked.
- You have knee pain while resting.
- Your knee is swelling persistently.
- You have valgus (knock-knee) or varus (bowlegged) deformity of the knee.
Risks of knee replacement surgery
Like any surgery, total knee arthroscopy surgery carries risks. Possible risks include:
- Blood clots in the leg veins (Deep vein thrombosis) or lungs
- Nerve damage
- Wearing out of the artificial knee joint
- Heart attack
Knee replacement surgery procedure
Before the surgery begins, you’re usually either given general anesthesia, which makes you unconscious, or spinal anesthesia, which leaves you awake but numb waist down.
An orthopedic surgeon will then make an incision roughly 6 to 10 inches long, move your kneecap to the side, and carefully cut away the damaged surfaces of the knee joint.
Next, your surgeon prepares the bone ends, fits the artificial joint in place, closes the incision with stitches or surgical staples, and applies a dressing to the wound.
Typically, knee arthroscopy takes about 2 hours this is if there is no complication that will arise during the surgery.
Knee replacement surgery cost
The cost of getting a knee arthroscopy surgery varies depending on the services offered during the pre-surgery phase, surgery and hospital stay, and postsurgical cost.
In the US, the average hospital charge for a total knee replacement (TKR) is $49,500, and a partial knee replacement (PKR) costs about 10-20% less.
Recovery from knee replacement surgery
After the surgery, you’re taken to a recovery room for observation and then moved to your hospital room, where you’ll most likely stay for several days.
Your hospital stay will involve pain management, blood clot prevention, starting physical therapy as early as the day after surgery, and breathing exercises.
Once your home, the recovery process will include wound care, diet, and exercise. The success of your surgery will largely depend on your compliance with the instructions given by your care team.
According to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS), It can take up to 3 months to recover completely from a knee replacement surgical procedure.
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- Knee replacement by mayo clinic staff (2017) https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/knee-replacement/about/pac-20385276
- How knee replacement surgery is performed(2016) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/knee-replacement/what-happens/
- Total Knee replacement surgery (n.d) https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/total-knee-replacement/
- Understanding knee replacement costs(2017) https://www.healthline.com/health/total-knee-replacement-surgery/understanding-costs#1
- Knee replacement surgery procedure(n.d) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/knee-replacement-surgery-procedure