Every knee replacement is different. Each patient is unique, and patients and doctors face a set of choices before deciding to proceed with surgery. Below are some of the issues patients and doctors may consider before scheduling knee replacement surgery.
Is it time for a knee replacement?
People considering knee replacement are advised to consider 3 questions:
- How does knee pain affect my lifestyle?
- Have other treatments been exhausted?
- What are the risks related to not having surgery?
Some patients decide that a knee replacement must be done as soon as possible, while others decide it is best to defer surgery as long as possible.
Are there guidelines for selecting an orthopedic surgeon?
Choosing a surgeon can be the most important part of the knee replacement process. Choosing a surgeon and a hospital that have dedicated resources and perform a high volume of knee replacements each year can:
- Increase the likelihood of a successful total knee replacement surgery (total knee arthroplasty)
- Decrease the likelihood of complications
In addition, the surgical team should have a well-developed plan for post-operative rehabilitation, which may include a self-directed or supervised physical therapy program.
Is the patient’s health good enough?
Smoking, obesity, poorly controlled diabetes, and other factors can affect patients’ post-surgical healing and surgical results. Patients are advised to understand these risks and take steps to reduce their risks before undergoing knee replacement surgery.
Is a double knee replacement appropriate?
People who have advanced arthritis in both knees might consider a double knee replacement. This procedure carries both advantages and risks.
Does the type of artificial knee component being used matter?
During knee replacement, artificial joint components are implanted. These components are designed to move together similarly to a normal, healthy knee.
Manufacturers offer many types of knee components. For example, some components are designed specifically for women, and others may be customized to the patient’s unique knee anatomy. Many patients wonder if there is an advantage to using a custom or gender specific component.
Does surgical technology matter?
Experts are continually developing new technologies to use in knee replacement surgery. Their goal is to facilitate better and more successful surgical results. Computer-assisted surgery and custom cutting blocks are examples of newer surgical technologies. Patients may want to consider these options but should keep in mind a surgeon’s experience remains one of the most important factors.
Should minimally invasive knee replacement surgery be considered?
Minimally invasive knee replacement surgery is done to help preserve muscle and other soft tissue around the knee, helping facilitate a faster and better recovery. Less invasive surgical approaches are technically challenging surgeries and carry their own, different set of risks.
A patient is advised to consider these questions, if appropriate, and discuss concerns with his or her surgeon. If the patient and surgeon decide to move forward, then knee replacement will be scheduled.