Total Knee Replacement (cont.)
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.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- 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?
- How does the patient continue to improve as an outpatient after discharge from the hospital?
- Find a local Orthopedic Surgeon in your town
How does the patient continue to improve as an outpatient after discharge from the hospital?
It is important for patients to continue in an outpatient physical-therapy program along with home exercises for optimal outcome of total knee replacement surgery. Patients will be asked to continue exercising the muscles around the replaced joint to prevent scarring (contracture) and maintain muscle strength for the purposes of joint stability. These exercises after surgery can reduce recovery time and lead to optimal strength and stability.
The wound will be monitored by the surgeon and his/her staff for healing. Patients also should watch for warning signs of infection including abnormal redness, increasing warmth, swelling, or unusual pain. It is important to report any injury to the joint to the doctor immediately.
Future activities are generally limited to those that do not risk injuring the replaced joint. Sports that involve running or contact are avoided, in favor of leisure sports, such as golf, and swimming. Swimming is the ideal form of exercise, since the sport improves muscle strength and endurance without exerting any pressure or stress on the replaced joint.
Patients with joint replacements should alert their doctors and dentists that they have an artificial joint. These joints are at risk for infection by bacteria introduced by any invasive procedures such as surgery, dental or gum work, urological and endoscopic procedures, as well as from infections elsewhere in the body.
The treating physician will typically prescribe antibiotics before, during, and immediately after any elective procedures in order to prevent infection of the replaced joint.
Though infrequent, patients with total knee replacements can require a second operation years later. The second operation can be necessary because of loosening, fracture, or other complications of the replaced joint. Reoperations are generally not as successful as the original operation and carry higher risks of complications. Future replacement devices and techniques will improve patient outcomes and lead to fewer complications.
Previous contributing editor: Dennis Lee, MD
Klippel, John H., eds., et al. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. 13th ed. New York: Springer and Arthritis Foundation, 2008.
Last Editorial Review: 2/14/2012
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