Total Knee Replacement
What you should know
Total knee replacement is surgery to replace a knee joint damaged by wear, injury, or disease. It is also called a total knee arthroplasty. The knee joint is where your femur (thigh bone) and tibia (large lower leg bone or shin bone) meet. A small bone called the patella (kneecap) protects your knee joint.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
- You may be allergic to the anesthesia and have trouble breathing. You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nerves, muscles, or tendons may be damaged during surgery. After surgery, your knee may be stiff or numb. Your legs may not be the same length.
- You may get a blood clot in your leg. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs or brain. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. A blood clot in your brain can cause a stroke. These problems can be life-threatening.
- Your implant may get loose or move out of place. The implant may get worn out over time and need to be replaced. If you do not have this surgery, your knee pain may get worse. You may have trouble walking, moving, or doing your usual activities.
The week before your surgery:
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
- Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery. Do not drive yourself home.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- You may need x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI. This will help your caregiver plan your surgery. Ask about any tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
The night before your surgery:
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The day of your surgery:
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
- An anesthesiologist may talk to you before your surgery. This caregiver may give you medicine to make you sleepy before your procedure or surgery. Tell your caregiver if you or anyone in your family has had a problem using anesthesia in the past.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
What will happen:
Your knee area will be cleaned. Your caregiver will make an incision over your knee joint. Your kneecap will be removed. The damaged parts of your femur and tibia will be removed. Your caregiver will place the knee implant in your knee joint. He will secure it with screws or medical cement. The kneecap, muscles, and other tissues around the joint will be moved back into place. A drain may be placed to remove extra blood and fluids from the surgery area. Your incision will be closed with stitches or staples and covered with a bandage.
You will be taken to a room where you can rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely. Do not try to get out of bed. When caregivers see that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room. You may need to use a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine. This machine will slowly bend and straighten your knee for you as you lie in bed.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your surgery.
- You get a cold, the flu, or have a fever.
- You have infected skin or a wound near the area where your surgery will be done.
- You have questions or concerns about your knee surgery.
Seek Care Immediately if
- The problems for which you are having the surgery get worse.
- You have severe knee pain.
- You have more trouble walking or moving your knee.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.