Orthopedic surgeons at Sutter Amador Hospital specialize in advanced total knee replacements that can help ease knee pain and restore mobility in people with severe arthritis. If you’ve tried alternatives to knee replacement without success, talk to a doctor about this common knee surgery.
Total Knee Replacement
In a total knee replacement, the surgeon cuts into the quadriceps tendon, which connects the quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh to the kneecap. The orthopedic specialist then moves the kneecap aside to have clear access to the knee joint.
The orthopedic surgeon removes damaged bone and cartilage from your thighbone, shinbone and kneecap, then replaces it with an artificial joint made of metal and wear-resistant plastic.
Most people can walk without crutches or a cane six weeks after surgery. But it may take up to three months for pain and swelling to completely subside. Recovery of full strength is gradual and may take up to 12 months.
Your New Knee Joint
Regardless of the technique, all knee replacements involve replacing the ends of the thighbone and shinbone with implants made of alloys of cobalt chromium and titanium, and with polyethylene, a medical-grade plastic. The new joint has a plastic spacer in place of cartilage so it can move smoothly. The pieces are either held in place by bone cement or by “ingrowth” technology, in which the bone grows between small beads or mesh on the surface of the prosthetics.
Typically people spend one to three nights in the hospital after a knee replacement, but if you are healthy, strong and have support at home, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend outpatient surgery. Most commercial insurers will cover outpatient surgery, but at present Medicare does not. Check with your insurer if you are considering an outpatient joint replacement.
Research published in 2017 in Lancet(1) found that 90 percent of knee replacements last at least 20 years.
1. Lancet. 2017 Apr. 8. Pages 1424-1430.