During knee replacement surgery, the surgeon will remove the damaged or diseased areas of your existing bone and replace the removed parts with man-made components. We asked a Hackettstown NJ orthopedic surgeon to explain the procedure step by step.
The patient is prepared for surgery. Patients may be under general anesthetic. More commonly, patient’s will receive an epidural. This anesthetizes from the waist down, but the patient remains awake. Medical staff carefully prepare the area around the knee to reduce the risk of infection.
The surgeon will firstly make an incision in the skin to get access to the bones around the kneecap. He or she will move the kneecap to be able to work on the bones below it. Damaged areas on the thighbone will be removed. Damaged tissue includes bone tissue and cartilage. When all the damaged bone has been cut away, the surgeon attaches the first parts of the artificial knee to the thighbone.
The surgeon repeats the process of removing damaged bone and cartilage from the shinbone, and attaches the second parts of the artificial knee to that bone. The surgeon then inserts a medical grade, plastic insert between the metal components on the thighbone and the shinbone. This works as a shock absorber and helps the new knee be flexible.
Once the insert is in place, the surgeon will replace the patella (kneecap). Since the thigh and shinbones may now be shaped slightly differently, the surgeon may have to modify the kneecap, and it may be necessary to insert another plastic implant.
Once all components are in place, the surgeon will bend and straighten the knee several times to make sure everything is in alignment. When he or she is happy that everything is good, the incision will be closed with staples or stitches, and the wound will be bandaged. The patient’s leg may be placed in a special machine that continually bends and straightens the knee automatically.
After the procedure
Recovery time varies from person to person. In most cases, people will remain in hospital for three to five days after the procedure. Medical staff will monitor progress, and will check the wound frequently to prevent infection. Patients will be encouraged to start walking on the new knee the day after the procedure. Most people will need some kind of walking aid initially.
On release from hospital, patients should avoid putting too much strain on the new knee. Kneeling or twisting should be avoided. A new knee can mean a new lease of life. If you have trouble walking because of painful knees, act now and arrange a preliminary consultation.