A total knee replacement (also called knee arthroplasty) is a complex surgical procedure that requires an orthopedic surgeon to make precise measurements and skillfully remove the diseased portions of the bone, in order to shape the remaining bone to accommodate the knee implant.
More precisely, this procedure may be termed a knee “resurfacing”, because only the surfaces of the bones are actually replaced. During the procedure, the surgeon builds the artificial knee inside the leg, one component at a time, to create a highly realistic artificial joint. This procedure reduces pain and improves the quality of life in many patients with severe arthritis of the knees. Typically patients undergo this surgery after non-operative treatments have failed to provide relief of arthritic symptoms.
There are four basic steps to a total knee replacement procedure:
- Prepare the bone – The damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur and tibia are removed, along with a small amount of underlying bone.
- Position the metal implants – The removed cartilage and bone is replaced with metal components that recreate the surface of the joint. These metal parts may be cemented or “press-fit” into the bone.
- Resurface the patella – The undersurface of the patella (kneecap) is cut and resurfaced with a plastic button. Some surgeons do not resurface the patella, depending upon the case.
- Insert a spacer – A medical-grade plastic spacer is inserted between the metal components to create a smooth gliding surface.
Recovery Time of Total Knee Replacement Surgery
Traditionally, total knee replacement surgery involves using large instruments that require flipping the knee cap over and cutting the quadriceps tendon. However, the invention of new instruments and tools allows a less invasive surgical technique that enables patients to recover faster and regain more mobility in four to six weeks, compared to over three months with traditional total knee joint replacement surgery.
Although the recovery is faster with the less invasive surgery, patients still must commit to a rehabilitation program which ensures the procedure’s success after the surgery. Regular exercise to restore the knee’s mobility and strength, and a gradual return to everyday activities, are important for full recovery. A professional physical therapist will provide the patient with techniques and adaptive equipment that will provide TEXT OMITTED HERE to follow guidelines and precautions while performing daily activities.