How Does Total Knee Replacement Work?
by George Branovacki, MD
Do I Need a Knee Replacement?
Do I Need a Knee Replacement?Knee replacement is a surgical treatment for chronic knee pain caused by severe damage from knee arthritis or injury.
The most common cause of chronic knee pain is arthritis. There are three main types of arthritis, the most common form of which is Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs as we age when the cartilage in our joints wear away, causing the bones to rub together, leading to pain and stiffness in the joints.
When joint pain, swelling and stiffness limit your daily activities, and rest, medicine, and other non-invasive treatments no longer alleviate your symptoms, total knee replacement (TKR) may be a treatment option for you. The decision to have TKR should be made with your doctor after a complete orthopedic evaluation. The surgeon will also explain all risks and benefits associated with the procedure, how to prepare for knee surgery and what to expect after surgery, including knee replacement recovery time.
What Happens During Total Knee Replacement Surgery?
The procedure itself takes one to two hours, and the basic steps are as follows1:
1. Your surgeon first removes damaged cartilage and bone surface from the ends of your tibia and femur.
2. Metal implants (knee prosthesis) are used to replace the surface areas of the joint. The artificial knee may be sealed to your bone using surgical cement, or a cement-less approach may be used involving press-fit components, which have a porous or textured surface into which bone can grow and attach to the prosthesis over time.
3. Surgeons who use VERASENSE in total knee replacement then insert this sensor technology between the metal components. As the knee is taken through the range of motion, the sensor device sends data wirelessly to a monitor in the operating room, which the surgeon uses to guide soft tissue adjustments and implant position, helping to improve knee balance. Knee balance and stability are important factors that contribute to a successful knee replacement.
4. Finally, after the knee is balanced and positioned, VERASENSE is removed and replaced with a medical-grade plastic spacer to create a smooth gliding surface.
Learn more about the use of sensor technology in TKR: VERASENSE Sensor-Assisted Total Knee Replacement.
1 AAOS Website, http://www.orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00389, accessedAugust 2017.