Knee replacement surgery, or as it is also referred to as arthroplasty, is a remedial surgical course of action to alleviate the disabling pain and immobility caused most often by traumatic injuries such as the tearing or the detachment of the meniscus, cartilage or ligaments; by anatomical defects; or any one of several degenerative arthritic conditions most common of which is osteoarthritis but also the infectious or inflammatory arthritis such as Rheumatoid, Lupus or Psoriatic as well as avascular necrosis (dying bone tissue due to an obstructed blood flow).
Knee replacement surgery is a widespread procedure in which either the entire knee is replaced or only its damaged or diseased parts. In both cases, the whole or parts are substituted with metal and plastic modules shaped in a way as to allow the knee joint to functional and move in the same way as nature intended for it.
The Various Procedures
Depending on the patient in question, on the condition of the knee and the nature of its damage, on the surgeon assigned for the task and on the manufacturer of the components; knee replacement surgery can vary in several ways.
Total knee replacement (TKA) surgery is performed on most patients as damage seems to appear in more than one of the knee’s compartments (medial or the inside, lateral or the outside, patellofemoral or the joint between the kneecap and the thighbone):
- In a more invasive procedure, the front portion of the knee is cut open to expose its entire complexity in order to embed the replacement components into the bone and to repair that which is impaired. In some cases the prosthetics are cemented while in other cases they are not.
- The less invasive procedures require minimal cutting and the implanted prosthetics are gender (male or female) specific, the recovery time is reduced and the long term affects are maximized.
Partial Knee Replacement Surgery which is also known as unicompartmental arthroplasty (UKA) is reserved for approximately 20 percent of the patients whose damage is limited to only one of the knee’s compartments. Needless to say, these surgical procedures require smaller incisions and considerably shorter recovery time.
Risks and Complications of All Knee Replacement Surgeries
1/ Blood clots in the leg veins are the most common complications and the preventive measures are elevation of the leg, an exercise routine, support stockings and blood thinning medications.
2/ Fractures of the leg bones either during the knee replacement surgery or shortly after it. These mostly occur in older patients.
3/ Stiffness of the knee joint and limited range of motion. Both of these can be relieved with physical therapy.
4/ Instability of the kneecap and its tendency to dislocate which may require additional surgery.
5/ Loosening of the implanted components.
6/ Heart attack.
8/ Nerve damage.
9/ Onset of infections:
- – Positive intraoperative culture is contracted during the surgery.
- – Early postoperative infection occurs within the first month after the surgery.
- – Acute hematogenous infection is spread through the bloodstream.
- – Late chronic infection sets in and hangs on for an extended period of time.
- – Periprosthetic infection is the most difficult infection to deal with but its occurrence is rare.