A total knee replacement replaces the worn ends of the bones where they meet at the knee. Those bones are the thigh bone (femur) and the lower leg bone (tibia). Your doctor will remove the damaged bone. Then he or she will replace it with plastic and metal parts. These new parts may be attached to your bones with cement.
Your doctor will make a cut down the centre of your knee. This cut is called an incision. It will be about 20 to 25 centimetres long. Sometimes the surgery can be done with a smaller incision that is 10 to 15 centimetres. Both kinds of incisions leave scars that usually fade with time.
You probably will be able to go home about 3 to 5 days after surgery. If you have both knees done at the same time, you may need to be in the hospital for 1 week. If there is no one to help you at home, you may go to a rehab centre.
Most people go back to normal activities or work in 4 to 16 weeks. This depends on your health. It also depends on how well your knee does in your rehab program. This may take longer if you have both knees done at the same time.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.
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Current as of: March 21, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& David Bardana, MD, FRCSC - Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine
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