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Knee Replacement

During total knee replacement surgery, your damaged knee joint is replaced with an artificial joint (called a prosthesis). This surgery almost always reduces joint pain and improves your quality of life.

Your Orthopedic surgeon will secure the parts of the prosthesis to the bones of your knee, and together they’ll form your new joint.

Before your surgery.

You will most likely arrive at the hospital on the morning of your knee surgery. Be sure to follow all of your knee doctor’s instructions on preparing for surgery:

  • You should stop eating or drinking 10 hours before surgery.
  • If you take a daily medication, ask if you should still take it the morning of surgery.

At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked.

An IV (intravenous) line may be started to provide fluids and medications needed during surgery.

Before your knee replacement surgery.

When your surgeon and the surgical team are ready, you’ll be taken to the operating room. There you’ll be given anesthesia to help you sleep through your knee replacement surgery, or to make you numb from the waist down. Then an incision is made on the front or side of your knee. Any damaged bone is cleaned away by your knee doctor, and the new joint is put into place. The incision is closed with surgical staples or stitches.

After your surgery.

After your knee surgery, you’ll be sent to the PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit). When you are fully awake, you’ll be moved to your room. The nurses will give you medications to ease your pain. You may have a catheter (small tube) in your bladder. A CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine may be used on your knee to keep it from getting stiff. An SCM (Sequential Compression Machine) may be used to prevent blood clots by gently squeezing then releasing your leg. You may be given medication to prevent blood clots.

Soon, our skilled Joint University orthopedic team will help you get up and moving. They know precisely what they’re doing and how to help you recover, heal, and get back to life in the fastest, safest way possible. You may also have physical therapy or occupational therapy after your knee surgery. This will be coordinated by your Joint University team.

After surgery, you will probably be hospitalized for one-to-three days. Recovery time varies following knee replacement surgery, but most people are able to drive after two weeks, garden after three-to-four weeks, and golf after six-to-eight weeks. Your doctor will tell you which activities you can return to, and when, and which activities you’ll need to avoid.

Risks and complications

As with any surgery, knee replacement surgery carries possible risks and complications. These include the following:

  • Reaction to the anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Dislocation of the joint or loosening of the prosthesis
  • Fracture
  • Wearing out the prosthetic
  • Damage to nearby blood vessels, bones, or nerves
  • Pain

When to call your knee doctor

Once at home, call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms below:

  • An increase in knee pain
  • Pain or swelling in a calf or leg
  • Unusual redness, heat, or drainage at the incision site
  • Fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius) or higher
  • Trouble breathing or chest pain (call 911)

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