The joint surfaces where these three bones touch are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth substance that cushions the bones and enables them to move easily.
All remaining surfaces of the knee are covered by a thin, smooth tissue liner that releases a special fluid to lubricate the knee. This eliminates friction almost completely in a healthy knee.
Normally, all of these components work in harmony. But disease or injury can disrupt this harmony, resulting in pain, muscle weakness and increased friction.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a condition that causes wear and tear to your joint cartilage. It develops after years of constant motion and pressure in the joints. As the cartilage continues to wear away, the joint becomes increasingly painful and difficult to move. If conservative treatment options, such as medication, physical therapy or lifestyle changes like losing weight, fail to provide relief, your surgeon may recommend total knee replacement.
The word “replacement” gives the impression that your surgeon is removing the entire knee.
However, your surgeon will only resurface the damaged bone and cartilage of your joint. During surgery, the joint is exposed by an incision made down the center or off to the side of the knee.
Watch Video on Total Knee Replacement
A total knee replacement procedure removes the damaged portion of the femur (or thigh bone), the tibia (or shin bone), and the patella (or knee cap), replacing them with metal and/or plastic components that will replicate the knee’s natural movement and function.
Kevin Hindle Knee Replacement Patient
Kevin Hindle, a 47-year-old manufacturing engineer at Exactech, regained his active lifestyle with an innovative new knee implant that he helped develop.
Exactech’s knee system has a unique story that began more than 4 decades ago at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, one of the world’s leading orthopaedic research and treatment institutions.
Built on a rich design history and foundation, Exactech’s knee systems continue to demonstrate excellent long-term results1, helping hundreds of thousands of patients around the world regain their mobility.
A minimally invasive surgical approach for knee replacement is designed to minimize disruption of tissue surrounding the knee. Specially designed surgical instruments are used to prepare the femur and tibia and place a standard knee replacement implant through a small incision – 4 to 6 inches. In addition to a small incision, the surgical approach to gain access to the knee joint avoids trauma to the quadriceps tendon and muscles in the front of the thigh.
Other minimally invasive techniques called “midvastus” and “subvastus” make small incisions in the muscle but are also less invasive than traditional knee replacement. Minimized disruption to the muscle may lead to less postoperative pain and reduced recovery time. The hospital stay after minimally invasive surgery is similar in length to the stay after traditional knee replacement surgery–ranging from 1 to 4 days.2
Minimally invasive total knee replacement is not suitable for all patients. Your doctor will conduct a thorough evaluation and consider several factors before determining if the procedure is an option for you.
ExactechGPS® Guided Personalized Surgery
ExactechGPS® Guided Personalized Surgery is the latest advancement in technology that provides surgeons with real-time visual guidance in total knee surgery. This advanced platform combines surgeon expertise with a computer system to perform your knee surgery with a goal of advanced accuracy and precision, allowing for simple adjustments, minimally invasive techniques and implant alignment personalized to your unique anatomy.
What preparation is required prior to surgery?
In order to minimize risks, your surgeon may have you see your family physician before surgery to obtain tests. You also may need to have any upcoming dental work completed or prepare your home to avoid any post-surgery falls.
How long will my joint replacement last?
There are implants that have been documented to last 15-20 years. However, there are numerous factors that affect the longevity of a total joint replacement including patient indications (age, weight and activity level), implant design and materials used during surgery.
Just like your natural joint, the components of an artificial implant are subject to wear over time from friction caused by bending, straightening and supporting your body weight.
What is recovery like after joint replacement?
Therapy may begin the same day as your surgery and may continue up to four to six months post-op. Exercise is crucial for proper rehabilitation to promote blood flow, strengthen muscles and regain motion. Proper rehabilitation and willingness to follow all of your surgeon’s recommendations will contribute to a more successful recovery after surgery.
What activities can be resumed after surgery?
Most patients are able to resume everyday activities like climbing stairs and possibly driving three to four weeks post-op depending on your surgeon and your condition. This includes waist-level activities like writing for shoulder replacement patients. Activities such as golf, doubles tennis and swimming can usually be resumed, but only after a thorough evaluation by your surgeon. Recovery time will vary for each patient.
High-impact activities or contact sports are typically not recommended. These types of activities place an extreme amount of pressure on the joints, which could lead to complications.
What are the risks associated with joint replacement surgery?
Joint replacement surgery is a major operation and although it is extremely successful in most cases, some patients may experience complications, including but not limited to: infection, blood clots, implant breakage, malalignment and premature wear. Any of these can require additional surgery.