Knee arthroplasty or knee replacement surgery is for those whose knee joint has been badly destroyed which in turn causes chronic pain and impairment of functions. Knee arthroplasty is considered when all other treatments have produced no results. Generally patients suffering from osteoarthritis, in the age group beyond 50 years, are deemed to be prime candidates for a knee replacement surgery.
This is a surgical procedure where the diseased knee is either totally or partially replaced with an artificial (metal or plastic) joint. With advanced medical technology, it is now possible to perform keyhole surgeries or minimally invasive surgeries. The steps involved are:
1. Either general or spinal / epidural anesthesia is administrated to the patient.
2. While the patient is under, a 3-5 inch incision is made in the anterior / frontal part of the knee.
3. The knee part abutting the end of the femur or thigh bone is replaced with a metal component and the end abutting the top of the tibia (leg bone), is replaced with a furrowed plastic piece with a metal stem.
4. A plastic button maybe placed under the knee cap, depending on the condition of the kneecap.
5. The artificial parts or prosthesis function with the help of the surrounding muscles and ligaments.
In a knee replacement surgery, there is one other tissue called the posterior cruciate ligament that could be partially or totally replaced with a “polythene post”. The function of the posterior cruciate ligament is to support the hind leg from buckling backwards when the leg is in motion.
Benefits of Knee Arthroplasty
1. The incision made is very small in comparison to the traditional surgery.
2. There is lesser damage to the surrounding tissues, when an Orthopedic Surgeon is making the incision.
3. Instead of cutting through the tendons (traditional method), the Orthopedic Surgeon, operates between the fibers of the quadriceps muscles.
4. Healing time is quicker and extent of pain is considerably reduced.
5. Better motion due to less scar tissue formation.
Post Knee Arthroplasty
1. Hospital stay will be between 3-5 days.
2. A month or so later, the patient will observe a dramatic change in the movement of their knee joint.
3. There will be relief from the debilitating pain.
4. Post-surgery, the patient will be able to stand or move the joint. Generally, this can be done the very next day after the surgery.
5. To begin with the patient will walk with the help of parallel bars and later on with a walking devices like the walking stick, walker or crutches.
6. Six week later, the patient will be able to walk with minimum aid.
7. With the help of physiotherapy, the muscles are restored and the patient can then undertake any activity other than jumping or running.
Joint replacements initially were thought to last only 10 years but with advancing research it has been established that joint implants can last as long as 20 years, especially with advancing medical technology and avant-garde surgical techniques.