FAQs About Having a Total Knee Replacement Procedure

FAQs About Having a Total Knee Replacement Procedure

Fabio R. Orozco, M.D. November 7th, 2014

Are you preparing for an upcoming total knee replacement procedure? If so, then chances are you have a few questions concerning what to expect on surgery day and the weeks following it. If you are a patient receiving care from Rothman Institute’s joint replacement specialists, you have access to some of the top surgeons in the nation and you probably have already had most of your questions answered by your physicians. With over 9,000 surgeries performed annually, the Rothman Institute team has proven itself over the years to be the area’s leading provider of all major joint replacement procedures. 

Whether or not you’re a Rothman Institute patient, we’re happy to be able to offer you some helpful answers in this article, which addresses some of the frequently asked questions of many knee replacement candidates.
FAQs About Having a Total Knee Replacement Procedure
Who should have a total knee replacement?
Well, the easy answer to this question is that anyone suffering from severe knee arthritis should consider getting a knee replacement. The more complicated aspect to answering this question is in the fact that pain is measured subjectively. That’s why the decision to move forward with surgery should really be between a patient and his or her doctor. The fact of the matter is that you only have one coating of cartilage to last you your entire lifetime. If that cartilage is significantly damaged, the bones of the knee joint will begin rubbing together and the result will be inflammation and pain. No one wants to live with a painful, unstable arthritic knee. For patients with this severe level of knee arthritis, a knee replacement procedure can dramatically increase their quality of life. There are, of course, other trauma and injury related reasons to consider having a total knee replacement, but arthritis is the primary motivator. Talk to your physician about your pain level.
How does a total knee replacement surgery actually work?
When your cartilage wears away over the years, it leaves bone-on-bone interaction within the knee joint. During the joint replacement surgery, prosthesis can take the place of the damaged parts of the knee. But because just the surface of the joint is removed, this procedure is sometimes referred to as joint resurfacing. A total knee replacement procedure involves the shaving off of the arthritic ends of the bones and replacing them with new surfaces, which are made of either metal and/or medical-grade plastic material. 
How long will my new knee joint last?
Knee replacements have become an extremely successful and popular procedure. For patients who maintain a healthy weight, are reasonably active and protect themselves against infection, prosthetic knees can provide a lifetime solution! While there is no guarantee of the joint lasting for the rest of a patient’s life, there are some pretty impressive statistics associated with total knee replacement procedures:
  • A 98% chance of success (full joint functionality) at 10 years post surgery
  • After 20 years, a 94% chance that your replacement joint will be functioning well 
Are there potential complications associated with this surgery?
Outside of the occasional case of inflamed leg veins (can be fairly easily avoided by using knee motion machines, blood thinners, support stockings, etc.), there are very few complications. This procedure has been refined by the nation’s top joint replacement specialists, like the ones who practice at Rothman Institute, and therefore, most of the procedure’s original complications have been virtually eliminated over the years. 
However, infection is one of the remaining concerns. Find out if the hospital where you’ll have your surgery has a specially designed OR to keep out any dust, germs or unclean air. At Rothman Institute, surgeons take special care to wear special body suits that transport exhaled air out of the surgical field, keeping patients as safe as possible. For that reason, Rothman Institute can boast an incredibly low rate of infection: less than 0.5%! 
If your total knee replacement procedure is done well, you should be able to expect a successful result and a standard recovery, which includes a 2 week post-op visit for the removal of sutures or staples (if you have any) and another visit between 4 and 6 weeks to assess incision healing, mobility, range of motion, etc.
Remember that knee replacements are very popular, very successful procedures, but you should always put the odds in your favor by staying in good shape and maintaining a weight that is healthy for your height and body type. Talk to your physician to get more specific advice and counsel concerning whether you should have a total knee replacement. If you’re still looking for a care provider, we encourage you to call Rothman Institute today!

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