What are the benefits of a total knee replacement?
The biggest benefit is the disappearance of pain. Some patients notice some discomfort in the operated joint after the intervention. These discomforts are due to the surgery since the muscles that surround the joint are weakened by inactivity. These discomforts can last for a few weeks or months. In terms of muscle strength, it usually recovers once the pain subsides. In turn, mobility improves and recovery depends on how stiff the joint has been before the intervention.
As in any surgical procedure, there are risks in the placement of the knee replacement. We recommend that the patient inform the doctor of any health problem or situation to take into account at the time of surgery. Blood tests, a chest X-ray, and an electrocardiogram are performed to determine the surgical risk as accurately as possible and to prevent possible complications. These tests are evaluated by the clinician and anesthesiologist when interviewing the patient. The anesthesiologist will inform about the type of anesthesia and the risks involved.
The biggest potential complication of a total knee replacement is infection. Its origin can be located just in the area of the wound or deep, around the prosthesis. It can occur during admission to the hospital or once the patient is at home, and even years after the intervention. Superficial wound infections are treated with antibiotics. Deep infections require surgical treatment and removal of the prosthesis.
Sometimes the infection results from the spread of a localized infection to another part of the body. To prevent these types of infections, people with a total knee replacement should take antibiotics before undergoing dental manipulations, urinary catheters, or other types of surgery. If an infection appears, the indicated treatment is antibiotics.
There are other complications directly related to the prosthesis:
- Loosening: it is the most frequent mechanical problem after implantation of a prosthesis. It causes pain, and, if important, it may be necessary to replace the prosthesis with another. The development of new methods of fixing the prosthesis to the bone will minimize or eliminate this problem in the future.
- Patella luxation: in severe osteoarthritis, with large knee deformities, another possible complication is that, once the prosthesis is in place, the patella becomes dislocated. The patient usually repositions it spontaneously. In some cases, a reoperation will be needed to fix it.
- Wear: it is a slow process. It can contribute to loosening, although reoperation is rarely necessary due to isolated wear.
- Breakage: implant breakage is very rare. If it happens, a new intervention will be necessary.
- Nerve injuries: the nerves near the operated joint are rarely injured. It can occur in cases where a very important deformity must be corrected. Over time, nerve functions usually recover.
Is the total knee replacement definitive?
The expectation of older people is that the prosthesis should not be changed for the rest of their life. It will provide years of pain-free wellness, an achievement impossible otherwise. In young and active people, a new intervention is likely to be required for prosthetic replacement. Surgical materials and techniques are rapidly improving thanks to the collaborative work of orthopedic surgeons, engineers, and other scientists. The future is very promising for those patients with a total knee replacement.
Dr. Ketas Mahajan – Top Orthopaedic Surgeon in Vadodara.