(Total Knee Replacement)
Knee arthroplasty is a surgical procedure in which damaged portions of a knee joint are replaced with artificial parts made of metal and plastic.
At A Glance: Total Knee Replacement
Also Known As
Typical Recovery Time
Typical Price Range
Tell Me About The Surgery
Procedure Research and Consultation
How is a total knee replacement done?
When you have total knee replacement surgery, a surgeon makes a 6 to 10-inch incision in your knee and cuts away your damaged or worn bone and cartilage. Then the ends of the bones that form your knee joint are capped with an artificial joint, made of metal and plastic. Before the incision is closed, your knee will be rotated to make sure the implant is functioning properly.
What issue does total knee replacement surgery solve?
If you suffer from extreme knee pain and have trouble walking and climbing stairs, you might be a good candidate for total knee replacement surgery. This procedure often relieves pain and restores function for people who suffer from osteoarthritis.
Do I have options for anesthesia for total knee replacement surgery?
General anesthesia is most common for this procedure. But regional anesthetics—spinal, epidural, or regional—are also possibilities.
How do I know total knee replacement surgery is right for me?
You might be a good candidate for total knee replacement surgery if you’ve tried alternatives and nothing’s working to resolve your pain or lack of mobility. Alternatives include exercise and weight loss, and medication, including cortisone shots.
How safe is total knee replacement surgery?
In general, severe complications from total knee replacement surgery are rare. You should also know that Hancock Regional Hospital has been rated one of the safest hospitals in America by The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit health care watchdog organization; and was named the safest hospital in Indiana on the Lown Institute Hospital Index.
What are possible side effects and complications of total knee replacement surgery?
While they’re rare, some of the possible complications of this procedure include infection at the site of the incision, a slow-healing wound and continued bleeding, blood clots, longer-lasting knee stiffness caused by scar tissue, persistent knee pain, an allergic reaction to the metal components in the knee joint, and failure of an implant.
What are the possible side effects of general anesthesia?
Some of the possible side effects include nausea and vomiting, dry mouth, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, bruising (from the IV), itching, shivering and feeling cold, difficulty urinating, and sleepiness. In older patients, memory loss and temporary confusion are possible.
What are the alternatives to total knee replacement surgery?
Before deciding on a surgical solution to your knee problems, you might want to consider the alternatives. They include trying to lose weight to lessen the stress on your knees, low-impact exercise, careful use of pain medication including cortisone shots, and cartilage regeneration, which replaces the cushion between your bone endings. Radiofrequency ablation is another option. This minimally invasive procedure involves using an electric current from a radio wave to heat up a small area of nerve tissue to stop it from sending pain signals.
What are the risks of not having total knee replacement surgery?
If you need total knee replacement surgery and elect not to have it, pain from the damaged knee could continue to decrease your movement, affecting your ability to move and exercise. That will impact your overall health, making your knee problem worse. And the longer you wait the more your knee joint will deteriorate.
What kind of outcome is typical for total knee replacement surgery?
A total knee replacement should alleviate pain and increase your mobility, improving your lifestyle. Implants can last for 20 years or more.
Consultation and Choosing A Surgeon or Surgical Team
Do I need a referral to see a surgeon about total knee replacement surgery?
Your health insurance provider may require you to get a referral from your primary care provider to see a surgeon about total knee replacement surgery.
What should I bring to my first appointment with a surgeon?
Insurance information Medical records, including your medical history, from your primary care physicianThe most recent MRI image of your knee (Not sure where to go to get an MRI? Check out Gateway Hancock Health, where you’ll be able to get in and out quickly and pay, on average, 70% less than you’ll pay at a hospital.)
Do I have to get a second or third opinion for total knee replacement surgery?
You can always get a second or third opinion, but it isn’t required.
How should I decide which surgeon’s advice to follow?
You should work with the surgeon with whom you feel comfortable, whether that’s one of our surgeons or not.
Will the surgical team know my health history?
Your health history will be compiled and available to the team before, during, and after surgery. If you’re a Hancock Health patient, we will be able to access your records within our system. If you aren’t, we will work with your doctors to get the necessary information.
Why might I have to wait to schedule total knee replacement surgery?
In some cases it takes time for a patient’s body to be ready for surgery—for example, if you have another medical issue including another surgical procedure or an illness, we might wait to schedule surgery. Your health and safety are our top priorities, so we schedule surgeries when they’re best for our patients.
What happens if my symptoms get worse while I wait for total knee replacement surgery?
Your surgical team will evaluate the situation and help you make a choice that’s right for you and your health. Temporary treatments might be used if your surgery is rescheduled.
Insurance & Cost
How much does total knee replacement surgery cost?
Consult the Price Transparency Tool at HancockRegionalHospital.org for an idea of how much total knee replacement surgery might cost.
Will insurance cover total knee replacement surgery?
In most cases, insurance will cover most of the costs associated with total knee replacement surgery. To obtain your possible out-of-pocket expenses, use our Price Estimator Tool.
Will Medicare cover total knee replacement surgery?
Medicare parts A and B will cover the cost of knee replacement surgery, but it’s important for your doctor to indicate that the surgery is medically necessary.
What are payment options like for total knee replacement surgery at Hancock Health?
Hancock Health is committed to helping make great care affordable for all patients. To find out more about payment options, please visit the billing and insurance FAQ page at HancockRegionalHospital.org.
Pre-op and Day of Surgery
How should I prepare for this total knee replacement surgery?
You’ll probably be instructed not to eat anything after midnight on the day of your surgery, and you might also be told to stop taking certain medications or dietary supplements.
Why can’t I eat before surgery?
There’s a risk of aspiration, which means breathing foreign objects, like food or saliva, into your lungs. This can occur because the anesthetic for surgery can impair your body’s ability to stop the contents of your stomach from entering your lungs.
What should I expect right before total knee replacement surgery?
You’ll arrive several hours before your surgery and be escorted to the preoperative waiting area.You’ll remove all of your clothing and jewelry, and put on a hospital gown. (Your valuables will be placed in a secure area or may be given to a family member.) You’ll sign any necessary paperwork and a preoperative nurse will take your vital signs, review your medications, and answer any questions.You’ll meet the members of your surgery team. They will mark the location of your surgery on your body. An I.V. (intravenous line) will be placed in your hand or arm, so medications—including general anesthesia—can be administered. If you’re using a different kind of anesthesia, you’ll receive an injection.When it’s time for your surgery, you will be wheeled into the operating suite on a stretcher.
Will I need someone to take me home after total knee replacement surgery?
For your safety and the safety of other motorists, you willneed someone to drive you home. If you don’t have a ride, we’ll help you arrange one.
Why are there so many people on my surgery team?
In addition to the surgeon, you have an anesthesiologist, nurses—some of them specialize in working with patients and others assist the surgeon—and support staff, who get you checked in and out, compile your records, and more. They all work together, performing their individual jobs, so the procedure is as successful as possible.
Why am I asked for my name and date of birth every time I get medicine?
It’s a safety precaution to make sure you’re receiving the medication that’s prescribed for you.
What do I need to bring to the hospital the day of my total knee replacement surgery?
Anything you’ll need for an overnight stay, including a change of underwear, a sweatshirt, glasses or contacts, headphones, and your medications. You might not be there overnight, but it’s a good idea to be prepared.
How long does it take the anesthesia to wear off?
It takes about an hour for general anesthesia to wear off, but you may notice the effects for a day or so. It usually takes 30 minutes to an hour for local anesthesia to wear off, though the effects can last a few hours.
What will happen during total knee replacement surgery?
You’ll breathe oxygen through a mask and our team will track your vital signs as the surgery is performed. Your knee will be in a bent position, exposing the knee joint. That position gives the surgeon the best possible angle for the procedure.
When will my family be informed about how I’m doing?
Our associates will get information from the surgical team in the operating room during your surgery and keep them updated. Following the procedure, your surgeon will talk with them in person.
How long will the total knee replacement procedure take?
Total knee replacement surgery typically takes one to three hours.
How long will I be under for a total knee replacement?
You will be anesthetized during the entire procedure and a few minutes afterward.
How long will I be in the hospital after total knee replacement surgery?
While the length of a hospital stay depends on each patient’s individual needs, many people can go home that same day.
What can I expect right after total knee replacement surgery?
You’ll wake up from surgery in the recovery room and, as you start to regain feeling in your body, you’ll receive pain medication. After leaving the recovery room, you’ll be taken to your hospital room where you will be able to see friends or family who came with you.
How will I know if total knee replacement surgery worked?
Your surgeon will discuss your procedure with you. It can take up to three months for people who have knee replacement surgeries to return to most of their normal activities and as much as a year to fully recover.
When will I get to talk to my surgeon after surgery?
You’ll be able to talk to your surgeon immediately after your procedure, while you’re in the recovery room.
How soon after total knee replacement surgery will I be up and moving around?
Within 24 hours of the procedure, you’ll likely be asked to stand up and walk with the help of medical staff and a walker or crutches. The reason: Bearing weight on your new knee will help in the recovery process.
Will I receive pain medication right after total knee replacement surgery?
In most cases, patients receive pain medication immediately following surgery.
How soon after total knee replacement surgery can I eat or drink?
You may not be able to eat or drink right away and you may be asked to follow a clear fluid diet for one to three days. After that, you may return to solid foods—but easy-to-digest items, including soups, pudding, and yogurt, are recommended.
Will I need to fill any prescriptions or take medication after total knee replacement surgery?
You may be prescribed pain medication, anticoagulants, or other symptom-reducing medications.
Recovery and Follow-Up
What will I need to do to prepare for my recovery from total knee replacement surgery?
Arrange for a walker or crutches for the weeks right after your surgery.Make sure you’ll have help with everyday tasks, such as cooking, showering, and doing laundry. If you live alone, our associates can help you find a temporary caretaker.
How should I prepare for my at-home recovery?
Create a living space on your first floor—climbing stairs can be difficult right after surgery.Remove loose rugs and cords. Install safety bars or a secure handrail in your shower or bath and secure stairway handrails.Get a stable, comfortable chair with a firm seat cushion and back, and a footstool to elevate your leg.Arrange for a toilet seat riser with arms if you have a low toilet.Get a bench or chair for your shower.Shop for the groceries you’ll need when you return home from the hospital.If you live alone, ask a friend or family member to check in with you.
If I need physical therapy or rehabilitation after total knee replacement surgery, how is that arranged?
Our associates will help you arrange the postoperative care you’ll need.
Will I need any follow-up appointments or procedures after total knee replacement surgery?
You’ll have an appointment with your surgeon about two weeks after your surgery. Your outpatient physical therapy sessions will begin almost immediately following your surgery and last for four to eight weeks, maybe more. You’ll also schedule another appointment to check in with your surgeon about a year after your procedure.
Will there be any scarring or stitches to remove after total knee replacement surgery?
Your stitches or staples will likely be removed during your first postoperative appointment with your surgeon, about two weeks after surgery. There will be a scar where the incision was made on your knee.
What do I need to have to care for any wounds or incisions?
You’ll need fresh dressings but you won’t need antibiotic ointment, as putting it on the area is unnecessary.
How do I care for my incision at home?
Change your dressing daily, starting two days after you leave the hospital. Don’t scrub the incision area. If you have steri-strips over your incision, they will fall off on their own within about two weeks.You may remove your dressing and shower two days after your surgery if there is no drainage from your incision. Carefully pat the incision dry after your shower and reapply the dressing.For about two weeks, don’t submerge your incision in water by taking a bath or getting in a pool or hot tub. When the incisions are completely healed, feel free to resume those activities.
What should I do if I have an emergency or accident after total knee replacement surgery?
If you fall and hit your knee after knee surgery, or have another kind of emergency, call your surgeon’s office. If you’re in need of immediate emergency services, go to the nearest emergency room.
When will I be able to get back to work after total knee replacement surgery?
If you have a desk job, you can probably return four to six weeks after your procedure. If your job requires more physical movement, it could take longer.
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