A knee replacement is a common type of orthopaedic surgery, which involves replacing a diseased or worn knee with a prosthetic. Here is a brief explanation of this type of medical procedure.
When is this operation necessary?
This procedure is necessary in instances where the level of deterioration or damage to the knee is causing the person constant, severe pain and is affecting their ability to remain mobile and physically active.
It is usually recommended only after most other methods of pain management (such as medication and physiotherapy) have proved ineffective.
What are the risks associated with this surgery?
Knee replacement surgery is a routine operation which rarely results in complications. However, there is a small chance that those who undergo this medical procedure may develop DVT (deep vein thrombosis); this is where a blood clot forms in the leg.
There is also a chance that the wound may become infected; if the infection is mild, it can usually be resolved with a course of antibiotics. If it is severe, it may result in the prosthetic knee having to be removed.
Lastly, there is a risk of the surrounding nerves, arteries and ligaments being damaged during the procedure. This is, however, extremely rare.
What happens during this operation?
After the patient has been given general anaesthetic, the orthopaedic surgeon will make an incision in their knee, so that they can gain access to the joint underneath the skin. They will then cut away the damaged or diseased parts of the bone, before inserting the prosthetic (this artificial component is usually made of a combination of plastic and metal).
Following this, the incision that they made will be sealed up with sutures, and a thick gauze will be applied to the incision, to prevent dirt and bacteria from entering the wound and causing an infection.
What happens after knee replacement surgery?
During the first 24 hours after the surgery, the wound will have tubes attached to it, to help drain the fluid which will accumulate around the new prosthetic. When these tubes are removed, the patient will be encouraged to begin moving around as soon as possible, as this can help to speed up the rate at which they become fully mobile.
They will then be assigned a physiotherapist, who will aid them in their recovery, by teaching them how to perform special exercises which are designed to increase their mobility.