The goal of total knee replacement surgery is to relieve knee pain and increase knee function by resurfacing the bones that meet at the knee joint. The surgeon removes damaged portions of bone at the end of the femur (thigh-bone) and top of the tibia (shin-bone) and replaces them with prosthetic components. Some surgeries also resurface the back of the patella, or kneecap.
- See also Knee Surgery for Arthritis
Illustration of total knee replacement surgery.
Below is a step-by-step description of a typical total knee replacement surgery. The actual surgery typically lasts for two hours per knee.
Knee Replacement Surgery Step-by-Step Description
Surgical procedures differ depending on the patient’s needs and the surgeon’s approach, but generally the steps are as follows:
- The patient’s vital signs are checked to make sure blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and oxygenation levels are normal and surgery can proceed. A mark is made on the knee undergoing surgery.
- Anesthesia is administered. The patient may receive general anesthesia (be put to sleep) or be given a regional anesthesia to block sensation from the waste down along with a relaxant. What type of anesthesia a patient receives is decided well ahead of time.
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After surgery, a patient may be taken to a recovery room for several hours while the surgical anesthesia wears off. Afterwards a patient typically is taken to a hospital room where he or she will spend 3 to 7 days before being discharged.
- Breeman S, Campbell M, Dakin H, Fiddian N, Fitzpatrick R, Grant A, Gray A, Johnston L, Maclennan G, Morris R, Murray D; KAT Trial Group. Patellar resurfacing in total knee replacement: five-year clinical and economic results of a large randomized controlled trial. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2011 Aug 17;93(16):1473-81. PubMed PMID: 22204002.
- Pavlou G, Meyer C, Leonidou A, As-Sultany M, West R, Tsiridis E. Patellar resurfacing in total knee arthroplasty: does design matter? A meta-analysis of 7075 cases. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2011 Jul 20;93(14):1301-9. PubMed PMID: 21792496.