Total Knee Replacements

Total Knee Replacement Overview

A total knee replacement or total knee arthroplasty is a common surgical procedure in which arthritic knee bone and cartilage are removed and replaced with metal and plastic components. Carolina Orthopaedics and Neurological Associates’ (CONA) total knee replacement patients receive new knees and live pain-free lives with minimal to no restrictions.

How is a total knee replacement performed?

A total knee replacement is an inpatient procedure performed under local or general anesthesia. Procedure steps are:

  1. Begin surgery. Soft tissues are delicately retracted. The knee joint is visualized.
  2. Preparation. Arthritic bone and cartilage are removed.  Bone is prepared for implants.
  3. Implants. Implant sizes are trialed until the perfect fit is found. Permanent implants are placed on bones and bonded in place.

Dissolvable sutures close deep and superficial tissue layers. Skin staples close the skin. A sterile dressing is placed over the surgical site and a gauze bandage is wrapped around it. Total procedure time is 1-2 hours.

What conditions can total knee replacement treat?

Total knee replacement treats severe osteoarthritis that does not respond to nonsurgical and minimally invasive treatment options. It may also be recommended to treat rheumatoid and posttraumatic arthritis. Surgical candidates are usually patients who are in good physical condition and have no injuries or illnesses that could negatively affect results. Because implants usually last about 20-30 years and are not easily replaced, age can play a factor in candidacy. Most candidates are 55 or older.

What are total knee replacement advantages?

Total knee replacement is an effective procedure that benefits many patients. Advantages include:

  • A quick 6-8 month recovery
  • Immediate pain relief
  • Dramatically improved quality of life
  • Minimal to no restrictions after recovery

Patients are able to do many activities and jobs they could not do because of severe arthritis.

What is total knee replacement recovery like?

Pain is monitored and controlled and infection risk is minimized during a 3-5 night hospital stay after surgery. Physical therapy is started immediately after surgery and continues throughout the recovery process. Patients see their CONA specialist for their first follow up appointment about two weeks after surgery. Skin staples are usually taken out at this time. Follow up appointments occur at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. Strength and flexibility are accessed and x-rays are taken. Complete recovery usually takes about 6-8 months.

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