Total Knee Replacement

Total Knee Replacement surgery (TKR), or total knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure where worn and damaged parts of the knee joint are replaced with metallic and plastic parts. Knees generally demonstrate wear at the cartilage, the soft padded tissue which lines the bones within the joint. Once the joint cartilage wears down, often to the bone, the joint can be replaced with a metal and plastic composite joint. The purpose of a total knee replacement is to eliminate the pain and discomfort experience when moving, whilst providing patients with a greater range of leg movement at the knee joint.

Prior to the operation, the patient will meet with an anaesthetist; a specialist in perioperative medicine who will discuss the various anaesthetic options available. This procedure is typically performed under a general anaesthetic, which means that patients are unconscious for the length of the surgery. Depending on the extent of the operation, this procedure can also be performed with a type of regional anaesthetic, where the leg is first numbed and light sedation given, ensuring that no pain is felt.

During the surgery, the skin around the knee is prepared using an antiseptic solution. A cut is then made over the front of the knee, and the soft tissues are carefully separated to allow the surgeon to gain access to the knee joint. Using surgical tools, the worn and damaged surfaces are carefully removed and the new knee joint is placed securely into the bone surfaces. The whole process, including preparation and immediate recovery from the anaesthetic, typically takes about 2 hours. Most patients have a short stay in hospital following the operation as the medical and nursing teams ensure that you are recovering well.

Recovery times vary between patients, some people will recover very quickly, however it may be around six weeks before you can walk again completely unaided, and may take up to 3 months before the pain and swelling completely disappear. The goal of a total knee replacement is to improve your quality of life and enable you to do the activities in life that you love such as walking, cycling, playing golf or swimming.

For further reading:

OrthoInfo: Total Knee Replacement