Total Knee Replacement

Xrays show arthritis affecting all compartments of the knee.
A Total Knee Replacement has been performed.

A total knee arthroplasty replaces the joint surfaces in all of the compartments of the knee joint. This a major operation and the final resort in the treatment of knee arthritis and is used for disabling symptoms that have not responded to non-surgical methods of treatment.

A knee replacement is a metal bearing with plastic insert, which acts as a low friction surface. The implants may be inserted with or without acrylic cement. In order to expose the knee joint to insert the implants, a great deal of soft tissue dissection is required, which cause the knee to bleed, resulting in swelling and bruising.

The appearance of the knee after a knee replacement can be quite alarming, but settles quickly over the first two weeks and gradually knee function recovers over a period of three months, although recovery finally plateaus at about one year after surgery.

The main risks of undergoing a knee replacement are:

  • Infection (risk of approximately 1%)

  • Stiffening of the knee when knee will not bend as well as before the operation.

  • Thrombosis in the leg (DVT), which will require treatment with an anticoagulant.

Although the majority of patients benefit from knee replacement surgery, approximately 20% will not be satisfied with the outcome of the operation, usually due to persistent knee pain, which cannot always be explained.