When to go for knee replacement surgery?
When all other conservative methods of treatment have been tried and have failed to relieve pain. When the pain is prolonged, constant and disability is severe to the extent of affecting the day to day activities , then joint replacement is inevitable as the damage to the joint due to osteoarthritis is irreversible. It is an elective surgery and hence can be decided by you.
Planning for the surgery
Once you have decided to go in for surgery, it is advisable to
- Lose excess weight.
- Stop smoking.
- Do exercises which help strengthen muscles around the knee joint.
- Do the required medical tests as adviced by your surgeon.
It is done under spinal, epidural or general anaesthesia. The time taken for surgery is about one and a half hours. The diseased surfaces are cut and the artificial surface is implanted. This is held in place with bone cement. The anterior cruciate ligament is removed as it is invariably damaged. The medial and lateral collateral ligaments are retained. Patients have to stay in the hospital for about 5days.
Benefits of Joint Replacement
- Relief from pain a few weeks after the surgery.
- Recovery of movements at the knee joint.
- Repair of any deformities which were there before the surgery.
- Return to normal day to day activities.
- Restoration of stability at the knee joint.
Complications of Knee Replacement
Total knee replacement is a major surgery and as with any major surgery, there are potential risks involved. Though the possibility of complications is rare, it is important that you are aware of these risks before the surgery takes place.
Complications can be medical (general) or local complications specific to the Knee.
Medical complications include:
Allergic reactions to medications.
Blood loss requiring transfusion with its low risk of disease transmission.
Local complications include:
Infection occur with any operation. In the knee, this can be superficial or deep. Infection rates vary but if it occurs it can be treated with antibiotics but may require further surgery.
Blood clots (Deep Venous Thrombosis) These can form in the calf muscles and can travel to the lung (Pulmonary embolism). These can occasionally be serious and even life threatening. If you get calf pain or shortness of breath at any stage, you should notify your doctor.