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Knee Replacement Surgery


Normal knee joint

Picture of a normal knee joint

Inside a normal knee joint, thick cushioning (cartilage) covers and protects the ends of your bones. This is called hyaline cartilage. Another type of cartilage, called meniscal cartilage or meniscus, acts like a shock absorber between the bones and keeps the knee joint stable by spreading out the load evenly across the joint. The two menisci (plural of meniscus) protect and cushion the surface of the joint and the ends of your bones.

Osteoarthritis of the knee

Picture of a knee joint with osteoarthritis

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage that protects and cushions the knee joint breaks down over time. As the cartilage wears down, the bone surfaces rub against each other. This damages the tissue and bone, causing pain. Osteoarthritis is common in the knee joints.

Femoral component is placed

Picture of knee replacement surgery: Femoral component

Removal of damaged cartilage from the lower end of the femur and placement of the femoral component

Tibial component is placed

Picture of knee replacement surgery: Tibial component

Removal of damaged cartilage from the upper end of the tibia and placement of the tibial component

Patellar component is placed

Picture of knee replacement surgery: Patellar component

Removal of damaged cartilage from the patella and placement of the patellar component

Knee replacement surgery is complete

Picture of completed knee replacement surgery

Completed knee replacement

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerStanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
Last RevisedApril 8, 2011

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