Hip and knee joint replacement surgery is becoming increasingly common in the United States. There were over 700,000 knee replacements performed in the United States in 2013, and there were over 300,000 hip replacements in the same year. Most people who get a knee replacement are between 50 and 80 years old. Anyone who is intimidated by this procedure and wants to learn more should do some research and watch a knee joint replacement surgery video. For other who are just interested in learning the basics of orthopedic surgery, here’s an overview of the basics of knee joint replacement.
What happens during the procedure?
- The patient receives general anesthesia so they will not be awake during surgery. While under general anesthesia, the patient also cannot feel pain and will not remember the procedure.
- The surgeon will make a cut on top of the knee that is about 10 inches long. The surgeon moves the kneecap and cuts other bones in order to make room for the new replacement part.
- The surgeon finds and removes damaged or worn out cartilage and bone from the knee.
- A man-made joint is placed in the knee and attached to the thigh, shin and knee cap.
- Doctors check their work to make sure all muscles and tendons were damaged, and they close the surgical incision.
How should patients prepare for the procedure?
- Make a list of all the drugs you are taking and give it to your doctor. This is one of the most important parts of prep for surgery because some medications may interact with anesthesia or other drugs needed during surgery, and this can be dangerous.
- If you are on drugs that suppress immune function or any anticoagulant drugs, you should stop taking them two weeks before the procedure. Immunosuppressives increase the likelihood of getting infected during the surgery and anticoagulants make it easier to bleed, so it is very important that you stop using these drugs two weeks prior to the procedure.
- Find a good physical therapist who can work with you when your surgery is done. This is necessary because the prognosis of knee joint replacement surgery is dependant on how committed the patient is to a recovery plan.
- Stop smoking as soon as possible. Smoking is detrimental to recovery and can slow the healing of wounds. This is an integral part of surgery prep that patients should make every effort to do.
- Obtain all the medical supplies you need after surgery, like a walker or crutches.
- Arrange for someone to help with transportation to and from the hospital when it is time for you to have the procedure.
What is recovery like after the knee replacement surgery?
- You will need to stay in the hospital for three to five days after surgery. This is because your doctor will want to monitor your condition and make sure you are healing well.
- After about four weeks, you should notice significant improvement in your pain levels and ability to move around.
- After six weeks you should be able to walk and move around with minimal help from others. You will begin returning to your normal routine.
- Physical therapy is an important part of knee replacement surgery, and you will have to participate in it for one to two months. The length of the physical therapy treatment is different for everyone.