What is a knee replacement?

Knee replacement surgery is designed to replace the damaged articular cartilage or gliding surface and any related loss of bone structure or ligament support. The procedure itself is a resurfacing of the damaged knee, and relies on the patient's muscles and ligaments for support and function. The prostheses (replacement knees) come in several different configurations designed for replacement of specific patterns of advanced arthritis.

Are all knee replacements the same?

Knee replacements are not all the same. There are different types of knee replacements, such as:

  • Uni-compartmental (only addresses one of three knee compartments)
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) retaining
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) substituting
  • Rotating platform
  • Stabilized
  • Hinge

These different prostheses can be made of cobalt chrome, titanium, and polyethylene (plastic). They can be fixed to the bone with acrylic cement or can be press-fit, which allows bone to grow into the implant. The use of a particular implant design, material, and fixation method depends on many factors related to each patient. The orthopaedic surgeon selects the type of knee replacement that best suits the patient, based on the amount of arthritis bone loss and the quality of the ligaments supporting the knee.

What happens during surgery?

The surgery involves removing a small portion of the bone in the knee, and covering it with a combination of metal and plastic to form a new surface of the joint and to repair loss of bone structure or ligament support.

What happens after surgery?

Medicines may be prescribed by your surgeon to help prevent blood clots after surgery. Your surgeon and physical therapist will also discuss movement guidelines for you following surgery.

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