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Knee Joint Replacement (cont.)

Knee Joint Replacement Procedure

During knee joint replacement surgery, the damaged parts of the knee joint are removed and components (prosthesis) are then placed in the knee. The three areas involved are

  • lower end of the thighbone (femur),
  • upper end of the shinbone (tibia),
  • behind the kneecap (patella).

The prosthesis will have both metal and plastic parts. Some newer prostheses now are made of metal on metal, ceramic on ceramic, or ceramic on plastic.

The surgery lasts about two hours and involves an incision over your knee. The thighbone and shinbone will be cut to prepare them for the new pieces. The patella will be moved at the beginning of the procedure, and later a bone cement will be utilized to fasten the prosthesis to it. This is the traditional way the procedure has been performed. Several modifications to the procedure can be made and partial knee replacements are options as well.

During the procedure, you will either have general anesthesia (you are fully asleep) or a regional block (spinal or epidural) that numbs your legs combined with an intravenous medication that will sedate you during the procedure. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both techniques.

You will usually leave the hospital within a few days of the procedure and go to a rehabilitation facility that will help you get used to your new knee and help you return to all your activities and hopefully many that you gave up due to pain or inability of your "old" knee to handle.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/23/2015

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