While the basic steps of various knee replacement surgical techniques are similar, many variables depend on factors such as the patient’s condition, the surgeon’s experience and preferences, and the type of prostheses that are used.

Below are some common surgical variables patients may encounter.

    Knee Arthroplasty

    Minimally invasive knee replacement surgery
    Minimally invasive knee replacement surgery follows steps very similar to traditional surgery while making a smaller incision. Minimally invasive surgery aims to preserve more muscle and other soft tissue around the knee but can be a technically challenging surgery with its own, different set of risks.

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    Total Knee Replacement
    Illustration of total knee replacement surgery.

    Computer-assisted knee replacement surgery
    Some surgeons use computers during surgery to help with prosthesis alignment. While more research needs to be done, early studies indicate that computer-assisted surgery provides as good if not better prostheses alignment than mechanical jigs, particularly for patients who are bowlegged.11,12,13

    Types of prostheses
    Most prostheses parts are made from a combination of metal and plastic, but a surgeon might also use prostheses that are all metal, all ceramic, or ceramic and plastic14. There are few studies comparing types of prostheses, and there is no definitive scientific evidence showing one type of prosthesis to be better than another.15

    Another difference among prostheses is how they are affixed to the bone. Components may be attached with bone cement or they may be "cementless," allowing existing bone to grow into them. Each type has advantages.

Patients will want to consider these variables but keep in mind that the surgical experience remains one of the most important factors. For example, an experienced surgeon who has expertise in a traditional surgical approach may offer better outcomes than a surgeon who is using the latest technology and methods but has little experience.

See The Pros and Cons of Double Knee Replacement


  1. Chauhan SK, Scott RG, Breidahl W, Beaver RJ. Computer-assisted knee arthroplasty versus a conventional jig-based technique. A randomised, prospective trial. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2004 Apr;86(3):372-7. PubMed PMID: 15125124. Accessed January 18, 2012, http://web.jbjs.org.uk
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