Medical Definition of Knee, artificial

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Knee, artificial: Total knee replacement, a surgical procedure in which damaged parts of the knee joint are replaced with artifical parts.

The surgery is done by separating the muscles and ligaments around the knee to expose the inside of the joint. The ends of the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia) are removed as is often the underside of the kneecap (patella). The artificial parts are then cemented into place.

The new knee typically has a metal shell on the end of the femur, a metal and plastic trough on the tibia, and sometimes a plastic button in the kneecap.

Total knee replacement may be done on people, usually over 55, whose knees have been damaged by arthritis, trauma, or other destructive diseases of the joint resulting in severe limiting knee pain and significant stiffness, instability (constant giving way) and deformity (lock-knees or bowlegs) of the knee.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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