Knee joint replacement may be recommended for:
- Knee pain that has failed to respond to conservative therapy (including medication, injections and physical therapy for six months or more)
- Knee pain that limits or prevents activities of importance to the patient
- Arthritis of the knee
- Decreased knee function caused by arthritis
- Inability to sleep through the night because of knee pain
- Some tumors involving the knee
Knee joint replacement is usually not recommended for:
- Current knee infection
- Poor skin coverage around the knee
- Paralysis of the quadriceps muscles
- Severe peripheral vascular disease or neuropathy affecting the knee
- Severe limiting mental dysfunction
- Terminal disease (metastatic disease)
- Morbid obesity (more than 300 pounds)
Please note that obesity can complicate knee replacement surgery. Obese patients will need to discuss their options with their surgeon.
Risks include, but not limited to:
- Blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis or DVT)
- DVT that breaks loose and goes to the lungs (pulmonary embolus)
- Infection necessitating removal of the joint
- Loosening of the prosthesis
- Dislocation of the prosthesis
People who have a prosthetic device (such as an artificial joint) need to take special precautions against infection. They should carry a medical identification card indicating that they have a prosthetic device. Also, they should always inform their health care provider of their prosthetic knee joint. Knee replacement patients should receive antibiotics prior to dental work or any invasive procedure.
The operation is performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon will decide which type of implant and implant material – metal, plastic or ceramic – will work best for the patient. The surgeon will implant the two parts of the prosthesis onto the ends of the thigh bone and the shin bone.