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Knee Replacement


What do I need to know about knee replacement?

Knee replacement is surgery to replace all or part of your knee joint. It is also called 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.

How do I prepare for knee replacement?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. You may need x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI to help your healthcare provider plan your surgery. Ask about any tests you may need.

What will happen during knee replacement?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given regional anesthesia to numb the surgery area. With regional anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery. You may remain awake during the surgery or procedure, but you should not feel any pain in your knee. Your surgeon will make an incision over your knee joint. He will remove the damaged parts of your knee joint and replace them with a knee implant. The knee implant may be made of metal and plastic. He may secure it with medical cement.
  • Your surgeon will move the muscles and other tissues around your joint back into place. A drain may be placed to remove extra blood and fluid from the surgery area. Your healthcare provider will close your incision with stitches or staples. He may uses strips of medical tape and a bandage to cover your wound.

What will happen after knee replacement?

Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You will need physical therapy to help strengthen your knee and prevent stiffness. 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. Ask your healthcare provider how to use a CPM machine.

What are the risks of knee replacement?

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nerves or blood vessels may be damaged during surgery. After surgery, your knee may be stiff or numb. You may continue to have knee pain. You may get a blood clot in your leg. This may become 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.

Care Agreement

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. 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.

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