What is knee replacement surgery?
Knee replacement surgery or knee arthroplasty, is an increasingly implemented surgical procedure that involves replacing a damaged or diseased knee with an artificial joint made of metal and plastic components. The procedure is commonly recommended for individuals who have severe knee pain or disability due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions that may have damaged the knee joint.
In the past, knee replacement surgery was typically only recommended for older individuals. However, technological advances have made the procedure safer and effective for younger people as well. In addition, newer artificial joints are designed to last longer and have a lower risk of complications.
When is knee replacement surgery necessary?
The decision to undergo knee replacement surgery is usually made after a comprehensive evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon, which may include the following steps:
- Medical history and physical examination: Your surgeon will take a thorough medical history, including information about your symptoms, previous treatments, and any other health conditions you may have. They will also perform a physical examination of your knee to assess the range of motion, stability, and alignment.
- Imaging studies: X-rays, MRI, or CT scans may be ordered to evaluate the severity of the arthritis, the amount of damage to the knee joint, and to rule out other potential causes of knee pain such as tumors or fractures.
- Conservative treatment: Before considering knee replacement, your doctor may recommend non-surgical treatment options such as physical therapy, medications, bracing, or weight management to help manage your symptoms and delay the need for surgery.
- Discussion of risks and benefits: Your surgeon will discuss with you the risks, benefits and alternatives of the knee replacement surgery, along with the potential outcome and recovery process of the surgery.
What happens during knee replacement surgeries?
During the surgery, the damaged bone and cartilage are removed from the thigh bone (femur), shinbone (tibia), or kneecap (patella) and are replaced by positioning the artificial joint, which typically consists of a metal and plastic components, into the knee, and secure it in place with special cement or a press-fit method.
Once the artificial joint is in place, the surgeon will carefully align the knee to ensure that it functions correctly. The surgeon will then close the incision, and the patient will be moved to a recovery room where they will be closely monitored for any complications.
The surgery usually takes about two to three hours, depending on the type of procedure and the patient's condition. The surgery is done under general anesthesia and the patient needs to stay in hospital for around 4-5 days. Physical therapy is usually started as soon as the patient is stable enough, which will be key in helping the patient regain strength and range of motion in their knee.
What are the different types of knee replacement surgery?
There are several types of knee replacement surgeries, which are generally classified based on the specific joint or joints that are being replaced. The most common types of knee replacement surgeries are:
- Total knee replacement: Also known as total knee arthroplasty, this is the most common type of knee replacement surgery. It involves replacing the entire knee joint, including the thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia), and knee cap (patella), with artificial components.
- Unicompartmental knee replacement: Also called a partial knee replacement, this type of surgery replaces only one compartment of the knee joint, usually the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) compartment. It's typically recommended for patients with arthritis that is confined to one compartment of the knee.
- Revision knee replacement: This type of surgery is performed to replace a previously implanted knee joint that has failed or become loose. Revision knee replacements can be more complex and have a higher risk of complications than primary knee replacements.
- Bilateral knee replacement: The surgery to replace both the knees is performed simultaneously or at a later stage, depending on the condition of the other knee.
- Gender-specific knee replacement : These types of knee replacements are tailored to the specific anatomy of men or women to provide better fit and function.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the factors affecting eligibility for knee replacement surgery?
Before undergoing knee replacement surgery, patients will typically meet with their surgeon to discuss the procedure and determine if they are a good candidate.
Factors that may affect candidacy include:
- Degree of knee arthritis: Knee replacement surgery is typically recommended for individuals who have severe knee arthritis that has not responded to other forms of treatment, such as medication and physical therapy.
- Age and overall health: Candidates for knee replacement surgery are typically older adults, and a person's overall health and ability to tolerate surgery are also taken into consideration.
- Weight and BMI: Obesity can put extra stress on the joints and can increase the risk of complications following surgery.
- Activity level: A person's lifestyle and daily activities also play a role in determining candidacy for knee replacement surgery. Individuals who are more active and have a higher functional demand may be better candidates for the procedure than those who are less active.
- Previous knee surgery: If you have previous surgeries on the knee, it might be a difficult case for knee replacement.
- Type of knee arthritis: There are different types of knee arthritis, and some types may not respond as well to knee replacement surgery as others.
- Psychological Factors: Good psychological preparation is important for a person having a knee replacement.Having realistic expectations, good support systems and a good understanding of the risks, benefits and recovery of the surgery are important.
It's important to note that these are general guidelines and ultimately the best way to determine if you are a candidate for knee replacement surgery is to have an examination and consultation with an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee surgery.
If you are considering knee replacement surgery, it is important to discuss the potential benefits and risks with your surgeon. They can help you determine if the procedure is right for you and develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.
What is the recovery time for knee replacement surgery?
Recovery from knee replacement surgery usually takes several weeks and may involve physical therapy to help restore strength and range of motion. Most people are able to return to their normal activities within a few months of the surgery.
What are some benefits of Knee Replacement Surgery
There are several potential benefits to knee replacement surgery, including:
- Pain relief: The most immediate benefit of knee replacement surgery is the relief of pain and discomfort in the knee joint. This can lead to an improvement in quality of life, as well as an increased ability to participate in daily activities and exercises.
- Increased mobility: After surgery, patients typically experience a significant improvement in their ability to move and function. This includes being able to walk farther, climb stairs, and even return to activities such as golfing, swimming, and cycling.
- Improved function and independence: Knee replacement surgery can help patients become more independent and improve their overall function, which in turn can improve their quality of life. For example, they may be able to do more tasks around the house and return to work.
- Long-lasting results: Knee replacement surgery has a high success rate and the artificial joint can last for many years, and in some cases even decades.
- Quality of life: Due to less pain and increased mobility, people who have had knee replacement surgery report an overall improvement in their quality of life. Many people feel happier, less depressed and more active after the surgery.
What is the success rate of knee replacement surgeries In Nigeria?
In Nigeria, knee replacement surgeries record a success rate of up to 98.6% according to Medicoexpert journals with more than enough competent practitioners on ground to perform the surgery in the country and offer post-surgical care to the patients.
What are common risks in knee replacement surgery?
While knee replacement surgery can provide significant relief from pain and improve the patient's ability to move and function, the procedure does come with certain risks. However, as with any surgery, there are also potential risks and complications. These may include infection, bleeding, blood clots, and adverse reactions to anesthesia.
Here are some of the most common risks associated with knee replacement surgery:
- Infection: As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection following knee replacement surgery. Symptoms of an infection may include fever, redness and swelling in the affected area, and a discharge of pus. In rare cases, an infected knee replacement may need to be removed.
- Blood clots: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which a blood clot forms in a deep vein in the leg, can occur after knee replacement surgery. This can be a serious complication if the blood clot breaks loose and travels to the lung (pulmonary embolism).
- Nerve or blood vessel damage: During surgery, there is a risk of damage to the nerves or blood vessels in the knee. This can cause numbness, tingling, or a loss of circulation in the affected leg.
- Loosening of the implant: Over time, the artificial components of the knee joint may become loose, which can cause pain and affect the stability of the knee. Revision surgery, which involves the removal and replacement of the original implant, may be necessary to correct this problem.
- Wear and tear: Despite advances in knee replacement technology, the artificial components of the knee joint are not as durable as a natural knee and may need to be replaced at some point in the future.
- Unsatisfied Expectation: Patients may have an expectation that the surgery will make them as good as new, but knee replacement only helps alleviate pain and improve function. It may not bring back the full range of motion or activity level as before the knee problem.
In summary, knee replacement surgery is a surgical procedure that involves replacing a damaged or diseased knee with an artificial joint made of metal and plastic components. The procedure is typically recommended for individuals with severe knee pain or disability due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions that have damaged the knee joint. While there are potential benefits to the procedure, including relief from pain and improved mobility, there are also potential risks and complications.
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