Table of Contents
- Total knee replacement facts
- What is a total knee replacement?
- What patients should consider a total knee replacement?
- What are the risks of undergoing a total knee replacement?
- What is involved with the preoperative evaluation for total knee replacement?
- What happens in the postoperative period? What is involved in the recovery from surgery?
- How does the patient continue to improve as an outpatient after discharge from the hospital? What are recommended exercises?
Quick GuideSlideshow: Exercises for Knee Osteoarthritis and Joint Pain
What is a total knee replacement?
A total knee replacement is a surgical procedure whereby the diseased knee joint is replaced with artificial material. The knee is a hinge joint which provides motion at the point where the thigh meets the lower leg. The thighbone (or femur) abuts the large bone of the lower leg (tibia) at the knee joint. During a total knee replacement, the end of the femur bone is removed and replaced with a metal shell. The end of the lower leg bone (tibia) is also removed and replaced with a channeled plastic piece with a metal stem. Depending on the condition ofthe kneecap portion of the knee joint, a plastic "button" may also be added under the kneecap surface. The artificial components of a total knee replacement are referred to as the prosthesis.
The posterior cruciate ligament is a tissue that normally stabilizes each side of the knee joint so that the lower leg cannot slide backward in relation to the thighbone. In total knee replacement surgery, this ligament is either retained, sacrificed, or substituted by a polyethylene post. Each of these various designs of total knee replacement has its own particular benefits and risks.
Klippel, John H., eds., et al. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. 13th ed. New York: Springer and Arthritis Foundation, 2008.