Total knee replacement; Knee arthroplasty; Knee replacement - total; Tricompartmental knee replacement; Subvastus knee replacement; Knee replacement - minimally invasive; Knee arthroplasty - minimally invasive; TKA - knee replacement; Osteoarthritis - replacement; OA - knee replacement
Knee joint replacement is a surgery to replace a knee joint with a man-made artificial joint. The artificial joint is called a prosthesis.
Damaged cartilage and bone are removed from the knee joint. Man-made pieces are then placed in the knee.
These pieces may be placed in the following places in the knee joint:
You will not feel any pain during the surgery. You will have one of these two types of anesthesia:
After you receive anesthesia, your surgeon will make a cut over your knee to open it up. This cut is often 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters) long. Then your surgeon will:
The surgery takes about 2 hours.
Most artificial knees have both metal and plastic parts. Some surgeons now use different materials, including metal on metal, ceramic on ceramic, or ceramic on plastic.
The most common reason to have a knee joint replaced is to relieve severe arthritis pain. Your doctor may recommend knee joint replacement if:
Most of the time, knee joint replacement is done in people age 60 and older. Younger people who have a knee joint replaced may put extra stress on the artificial knee and cause it to wear out early and not last as long.
Always tell your health care provider what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the 2 weeks before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
You will stay in the hospital for 1 to 2 days. During that time, you will recover from your anesthesia and from the surgery itself. You will be asked to start moving and walking as soon as the first day after surgery.
Full recovery will take 4 months to a year.
Some people need a short stay in a rehabilitation center after they leave the hospital and before they go home. At a rehabilitation center, you will learn how to safely do your daily activities on your own.
The results of a total knee replacement are often excellent. The operation relieves pain for most people. Most people do not need help walking after they fully recover.
Most artificial knee joints last 10 to 15 years. Some last as long as 20 years before they loosen and need to be replaced again. Total knee replacements can be replaced again if they get loose or wear out. However, in most cases the results are not as good as the first time. It is important not to have the surgery too early so you will need another surgery at a young age or have it too late when you will not benefit the most. After surgery, you should have periodic check up with your surgeons to make sure the parts of your artificial joint are in good position and condition.
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) website. Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: evidence-based guideline 2nd edition. aaos.org/globalassets/quality-and-practice-resources/osteoarthritis-of-the-knee/osteoarthritis-of-the-knee-2nd-editiion-clinical-practice-guideline.pdf. Updated May 18, 2013. Accessed October 1, 2020.
Ellen MI, Forbush DR, Groomes TE. Total knee arthroplasty. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 80.
Mihalko WM. Arthroplasty of the knee. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics.14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 7.
Price AJ, Alvand A, Troelsen A, et al. Knee replacement. Lancet. 2018;392(10158):1672-1682. PMID: 30496082 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30496082/.
Wilson HA, Middleton R, Abram SGF, et al. Patient relevant outcomes of unicompartmental versus total knee replacement: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2019;21;364:l352. PMID: 30792179 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30792179/.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 7/25/2020
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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