May 15, 2023
MBBS (Singapore)MRCS (Edin)MMed (Ortho)FRCS (Ortho) (Edin)
Knee replacement surgery, or arthroplasty, is a common procedure that aims to relieve pain and restore function in severely damaged knee joints. The surgery is typically recommended for individuals with advanced arthritis or those who have sustained significant knee injuries that affect their daily activities and quality of life. This comprehensive guide will take you through the anatomy of the knee joint, the causes and symptoms of knee joint deterioration, the types of knee replacement surgery, and everything you need to know about preparing for surgery, the surgery process, recovery, and long-term outcomes.
The knee is a complex hinge joint that connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). It is made up of several important structures that work together to allow for smooth, pain-free movement. These include the articular cartilage, which covers the ends of the bones and allows for smooth gliding; the menisci, which are crescent-shaped pads of cartilage that provide shock absorption and stability; and the ligaments, which connect the bones and provide stability.
Additionally, the knee joint contains a small, triangular bone called the patella (kneecap) that sits in front of the joint and protects it. The muscles surrounding the knee, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, provide support and strength for movement.
Understanding the anatomy of the knee joint is essential for understanding the causes of knee joint deterioration and the rationale behind knee replacement surgery.
There are several common causes of knee joint deterioration that may lead to the need for knee replacement surgery. The most common cause is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that results from the wear and tear of the joint cartilage over time. Other causes include rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, and avascular necrosis.
Symptoms of knee joint deterioration can vary depending on the underlying cause, but may include:
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment recommendations.
There are several types of knee replacement surgery Singapore, which can be broadly categorized into three main categories: total knee replacement, partial knee replacement, and revision knee replacement.
Total knee replacement, or total knee arthroplasty, is the most common type of knee replacement surgery. It involves removing the damaged bone and cartilage from the femur, tibia, and patella and replacing them with artificial components made of metal and plastic. The goal of total knee replacement is to restore function and eliminate pain in the joint by providing a smooth, stable surface for movement.
Partial knee replacement, or unicompartmental knee arthroplasty, is a less invasive option that may be suitable for individuals with damage limited to one area of the knee joint. This procedure involves removing the damaged bone and cartilage from the affected compartment and replacing them with artificial components. Partial knee replacement may offer a quicker recovery and less post-operative pain compared to total knee replacement, but it is not suitable for everyone and may not provide the same long-term outcomes as a total knee replacement.
Revision knee replacement is a procedure that is performed when a previous knee replacement has failed or worn out. This can occur for various reasons, including infection, instability, or the loosening of the artificial components. Revision knee replacement surgery is more complex than primary knee replacement, as it often involves removing the existing artificial components, addressing any underlying issues, and implanting new components.
Prior to your knee replacement surgery, you will undergo a comprehensive evaluation to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. This may include a physical examination, imaging studies such as X-rays or MRIs, and blood tests.
Once you have been deemed a suitable candidate for surgery, you will likely be asked to make certain preparations to ensure a successful outcome. These may include:
Knee replacement surgery is typically performed under general anaesthesia, which means you will be asleep during the procedure. The surgery usually takes one to two hours, depending on the complexity of the case and the type of knee replacement being performed.
During the surgery, your surgeon will make an incision over the front of your knee to access the joint. They will then remove the damaged bone and cartilage and shape the ends of the bones to accommodate the artificial components. These components are typically secured to the bone using a special cement or by press-fitting them into the bone for a secure fit.
Once the components are in place, your surgeon will test the function and stability of the joint before closing the incision and applying a sterile dressing.
Recovery from knee replacement surgery is a gradual process, and it is essential to follow your healthcare team’s instructions to ensure the best possible outcome. Some key aspects of recovery and rehabilitation after surgery include:
As with any surgery, there are potential risks and complications associated with knee replacement surgery. Some of these include:
Discuss these risks and complications with your healthcare team prior to surgery so that you can make an informed decision about your treatment options.
Knee replacement surgery has been shown to be a highly successful procedure for relieving pain and restoring function in individuals with severely damaged knee joints. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, more than 90% of people who undergo knee replacement surgery experience significant improvement in pain and function after surgery.
However, it is important to note that long-term outcomes can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s age, overall health, and the type of knee replacement surgery performed. Additionally, there is a small risk of complications or implant failure over time, which may require additional surgery or treatment.
Regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare team are essential for monitoring your progress and identifying any potential issues early on. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, to help promote the longevity of your knee replacement.
The lifespan of a knee replacement can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s age, activity level, and the type of knee replacement performed. In general, most knee replacements last 10-20 years before the components may need to be revised or replaced.
Recovery from knee replacement surgery is a gradual process, follow your doctor’s instructions for pain management, physical therapy, and activity modification. You may experience some discomfort, swelling, and stiffness in the knee for several weeks to months after surgery, but these symptoms should gradually improve over time.
The timeline for returning to normal activities will vary depending on several factors, including the type of knee replacement surgery performed and your overall health. In general, most individuals can begin resuming light activities such as walking and driving within a few weeks to months after surgery, with more strenuous activities gradually added over time.
Your healthcare team may prescribe medications after surgery to help manage pain, prevent infection, and minimize the risk of blood clots. It is important to take these medications as prescribed and to communicate any concerns or side effects to your healthcare team.
Knee replacement surgery is a common and highly effective procedure for relieving pain and restoring function in individuals with severely damaged knee joints. By understanding the anatomy of the knee joint, the causes and symptoms of knee joint deterioration, and the types of knee replacement surgery available, you can make an informed decision about your treatment options.
Preparing for knee replacement surgery, following the direction of your orthopaedic doctor for recovery and rehabilitation, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help ensure the best possible outcome. If you are experiencing symptoms of knee joint deterioration, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment recommendations.
If you have any questions or concerns about knee replacement surgery, reach out to your healthcare team for guidance and support. Remember, you are not alone in your journey towards better joint health and improved quality of life.