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Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement surgery, also referred to as knee joint replacement, is performed to relieve patients from pain and to restore the function of the knee joint that has been severely diseased due to numerous causes: most commonly osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The surgical procedure replaces mostly the weight-bearing surfaces; it includes the removal of the damaged bone and cartilage from the kneecap, the shinbone and the thighbone area and its replacement with an artificial joint made of metal alloys and polymers.

A wide variety of techniques are available for knee replacement surgery, which adapt to each patient’s age, weight, health and activity level.

Knee replacement surgery involves postoperative care and rigorous physical rehabilitation before the patient is able to return to preoperative mobility.

Knee Replacement Causes and Risks

Knee replacement surgery should only be performed when all other conservative treatments have been attempted and discarded. For instance, physical therapy is proven to improve function and in many cases delays or even prevents knee joint replacement.

Meniscus tears, cartilage defects, ligament tears do not require total knee replacement. For full knee replacement the patient needs to suffer from a severe deformity due to advanced rheumatoid arthritis, trauma and osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, knee joint replacement for these diseases carries a higher risk as well.

Knee replacement surgery risks are no different from any other type of major surgery, including:

  • Nerve damage
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Blood clot
  • Infection

Artificial knees do not last forever. Daily stress wears out the material after some years, but it also depends on the intensity of the activities and the materials used for each specific implant.

Knee Replacement Surgery Procedure

The surgical consultation is followed by pre-operative preparation, which has an overall duration of one month. During this time the patient performs daily motion exercises and strengthening in the hip, the knees and the ankles. Iron boost may be prescribed to improve hemoglobin levels in the system.

Among the common pre-op tests performed before knee replacement surgery we find:

  • Complete blood count
  • Electrolytes
  • PT
  • Chest X-ray
  • Knee X-rays – required to measure the size of the components to be used.
  • ECG
  • Blood cross-matching (if transfusion is required)

During the surgical procedure, the front of the knee is exposed and the quadriceps muscle is detached from the patella and displaced to one side to allow exposure to the femur and the tibia. Both bones are then accurately cut using cutting guides along the axis. Cartilages and ligaments (anterior cruciate and posterior cruciate) are removed.

The metal components are impacted and fixed normally using PMMA cement, but it also depends on the technique applied. Some of the cementless techniques involve osseointegration and porous metal prostheses.

An implant is used for the femur, with the same round-ended shape, and for the tibia one with a flat structure. Deformities are corrected and ligaments balanced as a final step of the knee replacement surgery.

Minimally invasive techniques are now available for total knee replacement, which, using specialized instruments, avoid cutting the quadriceps tendon and reduce the incision.

Knee Replacement Surgery Post-Operation

Patients usually stay for a few days in hospital, where they are encouraged to move their foot and ankle to increase blood flow in the muscles and to prevent blood clots and swelling. Preventive blood thinners might also be provided. The success of post-op rehab depends on the health status and the support available once out of hospital. Crutches and physical therapy are required until the patient restores the motion, strength and the function of the knee. In the first week a well-devised physical activity program should be started. It includes walking routine, normal household activities, and knee-strengthening exercises repeated several times a day. Complete recovery is expected after three months of intensive therapy.

Some common post-operation complications for knee replacement surgery procedure are:

  • Deep vein thrombosis – can be prevented by exercises that increase circulation
  • Fractures – are frequent in aging patients
  • Loss of motion – which requires manipulation and stimulation of the knee.
  • Instability
  • Infection

Knee Replacement Abroad

In the U.S. knee replacement cost can go up to $70,000 with all related expanses included. Thanks to medical tourism, with a little research and precaution, top-technique knee replacement surgery packages can be found abroad for a fraction of this price. In countries like Lithuania and Mexico patients can reduce their knee replacement cost to as little as $12,500.

Medical travel facilitators offer packages for knee replacement abroad with all the pre-operative procedures and tests, top-notch facilities, internationally acclaimed surgeons and idyllic locations for rehab.

on 09/11/2012
5 / 5 stars
Rodney Bergson
Knee Replacement Surgery
I had a knee replacement in Israel last month. Before going into surgery I tried physical therapy, I used a cane to help me walk, I tried medication, nothing alleviated the pain, I was afraid to do surgery because I'm 76 of age. My orthopedic doctor at home told me that another patient of his has just returned from the same procedure in Israel and it was very successful, he gave me the details of the hospital , HMC I think it's called and I flew over there to have the surgery. It cost me a quarter of the price I would pay back here so I saved up money as well
New York
on 08/28/2013
5 / 5 stars
Christina Li Volsi
Knee Replacement Surgery
Thank you onlinemedical tourism for organizing the whole trip, the knee surgery, hospitilization and two days in Salzburg