Knee Replacement Surgery In A Nutshell
Knee Replacement (or Knee Arthroplasty) is performed more often than any other joint replacement surgery today, more than 300,000 are performed annually in the United States alone. With over ninety percent of knee replacement surgeries resulting in a major improvement in pain and mobility, many patients consider this the most beneficial joint replacement surgery available. Much of the success of this surgery can be attributed to patients becoming very focused and active in their rehabilitation. A fairly new technique, called 3D modeling, is also increasing the success rate for knee replacement surgery (more on IBJI's 3D modeling capabilities in another article).
Knee Replacement Explained
In a total knee replacement, the cartilage and ends of the femur and tibia are removed. Specialized instruments are used for the removal, which makes the exposed bone surface ready for the implants. The orthopedic surgeon then fits a new joint to the ends of both bones. Typically then new joint is a combination of metal, typically titanium, and polyethylene, which is an incredibly tough and reliable plastic. Recently longer lasting ceramic and zirconium have been used in knee replacements, though the ceramic is not able to withstand excessive weight or activity.
Candidates for Knee Arthroplasty
Good candidates for knee replacement are chronic sufferers of arthritis (joint inflammation). Typically knee arthritis manifests as osteoarthritis, which is when the cartilage is worn away exposing the bone. This causes the bones of the knee to rub painfully against each other. Usually orthopedic doctors will try most, if not all, of the non-surgical treatments before performing surgery. If the patient only has sporadic pain or has the ability to take part in sports or athletics the Orthopedist will use other pain management and joint supplement techniques.