What is involved in knee replacement surgery?
During a knee replacement, the ends of the femur, tibia and patella are replaced with a metal joint which restores freedom of movement.
Let’s take a look at the way the knee joint works.
The knee is made up of four bones. The femur — which is the large bone in your thigh — attaches by ligaments to your tibia.
Just below and next to the tibia is the fibula, which runs parallel to the tibia.
The patella, or what we call the knee cap, rides on the knee joint as the knee bends.
When the knee becomes diseased due to arthritis or another injury the bones rub together causing pain and can even restricting the ability to walk.
No matter what the cause, one of the most effective ways to fix a damaged knee is to replace it surgically.
In this procedure, the ends of the femur, tibia, and patella are replaced with a metal joint which restores freedom of movement.
Knee surgery is a major operation, but your doctor believes that the procedure –followed up with physical therapy and time to heal — will result in reduced pain and greater mobility.
After you are unconscious, your doctor will make a vertical incision in your leg above your knee.
Using retractors to pull back the skin, the surgeon will make a second incision in the muscle in order to expose the damaged knee joint.
Next, your doctor will remove the patella, or knee cap, and flex your leg to expose the surface of the joint.
Preparing the surface of the joint involves removing the damaged or diseased parts of the bone and then cutting and shaping the surface to allow the best fit possible for the artificial joint.
Once your doctor is satisfied with this preparation, the team will drill holes in the femur and tibia.
They will also prepare the inside surface of the knee cap, and then coat the bony surfaces with a special cement.
The metal pieces of the new joint are then installed on the tibia and femur, as well as the knee cap pad.
Finally, your doctor places a spacer on the tibia surface.
After a final check to make sure all components fit and that the leg can move freely, the muscle and other tissues are closed with sutures.
Following surgery, sterile dressings are applied.
To aid in healing, your knee may be stabilized with a brace and you will be encouraged to use crutches during the recovery process.