When the cartilage has worn away, an artificial knee (called prosthesis) can take its place. The surgery to implant the prosthesis is termed a total knee replacement. Only the surface of the joint is removed – the arthritic ends of the bones are shaved off and replaced with new metal and plastic surfaces. The knee replacement recreates the normal function of the knee. While the idea of getting an artificial knee joint may be frightening to some, it is one of the safest and most effective medical procedures.
Total Knee Replacement SurgeryThe goal of a total knee replacement is to relieve pain. It may also help to restore motion and straighten the limb.
The most common complications of total knee surgery can now largely be avoided. Before surgery each patient receives a complete medical examination by a doctor, as well as routine testing. Donation of one’s own blood prior to surgery can eliminate the problem of HIV and Hepatitis completely. While inflammation of the leg veins (phlebitis) is not rare, the occurrence of death from this has been almost totally eliminated with the use of support stockings, knee motion machines and blood thinning medications (such as Coumadin.)
Infection in a total knee replacement can be a disaster. Like other complications, it is better avoided than treated. At the Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore all joint replacement surgery is done in special laminar flow operating rooms designed to keep out dust, germs and unclean air. The surgeons also wear “space suits”. These full body suits, worn over normal scrubs, let the surgeons move and breathe without spreading germs, since an exhaust tube carries dirty air out of the room. Thanks to these measures, the infection rate at The Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore is among the lowest in the world – less than half of 1%.
Long term complications such as wear, stiffness or loosening of the parts relate as much to patient behavior as to surgical success. However, these problem knees can usually be improved through revision surgery.