Knee Replacement

Knee replacement surgery is now a routine and common procedure, but despite this it should still regarded as a major undertaking and is generally used only when other more simple treatment measures have failed. The indication for knee replacement is for pain relief.

The operation involves removing the worn out surfaces of the old knee joint and replacing them with artificial components which usually comprise of 3 parts: a tibial base plate, a femoral component and a plastic spacer which acts as the bearing surface. Most operations are described as a total knee replacement, but some patients, whose arthritis limited to one part of the joint, may be suitable for a Unicompartmental knee replacement.

The operation requires an in-patient hospital stay of anything between 3 10 days; fitter patients with good home support can be allowed home within a few days, but obviously some people will take longer to recover. It can be done under a full general anaesthetic (asleep) or with the patient awake under regional anaesthesia, ie with just the bottom half of the body anaesthetised. It takes approximately 1 2 hours, depending on the complexity. The operation is done with a tourniquet, so any bleeding occurs afterwards; the blood is collected and re-transfused back into the patient.

An xray showing a unicompartmental knee replacement.

An xray showing a unicompartmental knee replacement.

An xray showing a unicompartmental knee replacement.
An xray showing an arthritic knee (antero-posterior view).
An xray showing a total knee replacement (antero-posterior view).
An xray showing a total knee replacement (lateral view).
An intra-operative photograph showing a completed knee replacement.