What is a total knee replacement?

Patients who experience pain from progressive knee arthritis, who have not found relief with conservative treatments may be candidates for a total knee replacement or arthroplasty. Knee replacement is a safe, effective procedure used to relieve pain, correct leg deformity, and can help patients return to their normal activities. Total knee replacement surgery is one of the most successful procedures in orthopedic medicine. In fact, in the United States alone, nearly 1-million knee replacement surgeries are performed each year. Advancements in orthopedic surgery make this procedure highly effective at improving a patient’s function. Further, advancements in telemedicine now make it possible to be evaluated by some of the best orthopedic knee surgeons in the country. Our “best in class” doctors are available to give you a second opinion and to help explain the best possible treatment options for your knee condition.

Why would I need a knee replacement?

Knee osteoarthritis is caused by damage to the articular surface of the knee. Arthritis is also the number one reason patients see a knee replacement. The pain from arthritis in the knee can be debilitating and when conservative measures fail, patients may consider a knee replacement. The types of arthritis that can cause a patient to consider a knee replacement are:

  • Knee osteoarthritis – Wear and tear arthritis and the most common form of arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – An inflammatory type of arthritis and an auto-immune disorder. Rheumatoid arthritis is often inherited.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis – Occurs after trauma or injury and is often sports-related. Torn ligaments, cartilage, fractures, and knee dislocations can all contribute to post-traumatic arthritis.

How is a total knee replacement surgery done?

The goal of Knee arthroplasty is to replace the damaged joint with synthetic parts. There are three basic steps in a total knee replacement:

  • The bones are prepared: The damaged articular cartilage at the ends of the femur and tibia is removed, along with a small amount of bone.
  • The Implants are put into position: Metal implants used to recreate the surface of the joint. The metal components are “press-fit:” or cemented onto the bone.
  • The plastic spacer is placed: This medical-grade spacer is inserted between the metal components and will create a smooth gliding surface. The spacer acts as a new-age cartilage or meniscus.

How long will a knee replacement last?

This question is common, and you should understand the risks and advantages of a total knee replacement. Most people (80-90%) who have undergone total knee replacement surgery enjoy the pain-free benefits of their new knee for 25-30 years on the average. Partial knee replacements are more likely to need another operation in about 10 years, as many as 1 in 10 need additional knee surgery within that time. It is important to understand your options and a quick orthopedic telemedicine consultation by one of our experts at BICMD can save you time, money, and even further knee surgeries.

What is computer-assisted or robotic assisted total knee replacement?

The advancements in orthopedic medicine have brought about some great assistive tools for total knee replacement surgeons. These medical devices allow orthopedic surgeons a more precise fit and placement of the components in an arthroplasty. Two of these devices are:

  • Computer assisted total knee replacement: This begins before the actual surgery, with an MRI or a CT scan. The surgeon designs a custom guide to position the knee implant to more exactly fit the natural joint in the correct anatomical position.
  • Robot assisted total knee replacement: The use of a robotic arm takes computer-assisted knee replacement to a new level. The robot is guided by the orthopedic surgeon to precisely shape the surrounding bone before placing the implant. It is important to know that the surgeon still does the actual surgery, the technology assists the surgeon in staying within the planned boundaries that were defined when the personalized preoperative plan was created. The process decreases the margin of error and makes the placement of the new joint more precise, allowing for a more successful replacement.

How long is the recovery following a total knee replacement?

Total knee replacement is normally an in-patient procedure. Your physician will typically provide you with a complete post-operative protocol that should be followed. Knee arthroplasty patients can expect the following after surgery:

  • Pain management – Medication will be prescribed to manage pain and should be taken as directed
  • Blood Clot prevention – Immediately following surgery, compression boots, blood thinners or support hose will be prescribed to prevent blood clots.
  • Knee exercises begin the day after surgery, usually with a CPM (continuous passive motion device.)
  • Safe-motion therapy with certain restrictions may occur for the first 6 weeks.
  • Physical therapy is part of the recovery process and is designed to slowly increase strength and range of motion.
  • Patients can expect to return to their normal activities in 2-3 months.

For more information on total knee replacement or knee arthroscopy, or to receive a second opinion for your knee condition, please contact our experts, by clicking on “Connect With a Doctor.” You will be connected to one of our orthopedic telemedicine experts through our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform.