Knee Replacement Surgery

What is Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery, also called knee arthroplasty, replaces a worn or damaged knee with an artificial implant (prosthesis).

A knee replacement procedure is recommended for patients who have developed severe knee damage due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. This procedure may also be necessary for patients who have had fractures, torn cartilage or ligaments that have led to irreversible damage to the knee.

If knee replacement surgery is necessary, our expert orthopaedic surgeons will help you determine what procedure is right for you and help guide you through the process of recovery.

Knee Replacement Options

When medications and other treatments cannot keep knee pain at a manageable level, surgery to replace the knee joint may be appropriate.

Total Knee Replacement

Total knee replacement (TKR) is the standard treatment for advanced osteoarthritis. During this procedure, plastic and metal inserts are used to replace bone and cartilage in all sections of the knee, including medial, lateral and the kneecap.

The vast majority of total knee replacements function for more than 10 years and over 80 percent last more than 20 years after surgery. More than 90 percent of knee replacement surgery patients experience a significant reduction in knee pain.

Partial Knee Replacement

While total knee replacements are more common, 8-to-10 percent of patients with chronic knee pain qualify for a partial knee replacement. Patients who undergo a partial knee replacement rather than a total knee replacement often recover more quickly.

Partial knee replacement is a surgical option for patients with localized damage to one part of the knee joint. This surgery replaces one damaged portion of the knee while leaving healthy areas intact. It’s typically performed on the inside (medial) section of the knee, but in some cases, it’s performed on the outside (lateral) section. Surgery which replaces the knee cap and the trochlear surface of the femur alone is called a patella femoral arthroplasty.

This procedure is more conservative than a total knee replacement, involving smaller incisions, faster recovery and possibly improved long-term range of motion than the standard total knee replacement. The knee may also feel more natural. However, in the future, you may need a conversion to a total knee replacement.

Minimally Invasive Partial and Total Knee Replacement

Minimally invasive is a term used for any type of surgery that is less invasive than traditional or open surgery. Minimally invasive partial or total knee replacement surgeries are innovative procedures that can be as effective as traditional surgery.

Minimally invasive knee replacements use smaller and fewer incisions around the knee, and have been proven to reduce postoperative pain, minimize trauma to tissue, and quicken recovery time.

The most appropriate candidates for minimally invasive knee replacements have minimal or moderate deformity, maintain a healthy weight, have few pre-existing health conditions and are motivated to participate in the rehabilitation process.

Are You a Candidate for Knee Replacement?

To determine the most appropriate knee replacement surgery for you, our knee surgeons consider a wide range of factors, including severity of symptoms, overall health and response to previous treatment.

If you are experiencing the following, surgery may be advised.

  • Severe pain that prevents you from participating in everyday activities
  • Have weakness in your knee and cannot move it fully
  • If your symptoms don’t improve with non-surgical treatments

For those who may have been diagnosed with advanced osteoarthritis, the condition of your knee joints will determine your surgical options. Surgery on the knee is common for severe osteoarthritis with a high success rate.

Optimizing Health Before Surgery

At Brigham and Women’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, we address each patient’s health before surgery. Clinical research has shown that better control of a patient’s medical and physical condition prior to surgery results in far better outcomes.

Pre-Surgical Rehabilitation (“Prehab”)

The speed and quality of your recovery may be improved with regular exercise and careful use of the knee. We provide all patients with educational materials and screening procedures to help ensure the best post-surgical outcomes.

All patients also have access to an online program where you will find the exercises that are part of our pre-surgery rehabilitation program. Our innovative “Prehab” program provide pre-surgical strengthening exercises that have been shown to accelerate recovery and contribute to better outcomes.

woman on the floor holding her knee

Prehab Paves the Way for Knee Replacement

Early research shows that patients who undergo a prehab exercise program recover more quickly post-surgery.

Read more

Outpatient Knee Replacement Surgery

Your knee surgeon will help you determine if you are a candidate for same day discharge total knee replacement or partial knee replacement. In either case, our clinical staff provides an innovative approach to pain management, and prehabilitation guidelines that allow some patients to return home the day of their procedure, known as outpatient knee replacement surgery.

What to Expect After Knee Replacement Surgery

A typical knee replacement surgery takes two-to-three hours. After surgery, you will spend one-to-two days in the hospital participating in a pain management regimen. Advances in pain control allow physical therapy to begin a few hours after surgery. After a short hospital stay, most patients return home with a cane.

Every patient has access to a personalized, rapid recovery rehabilitation program that includes access to an online platform where you can participating in customized rehabilitation protocols as well as self-assessments.

It may take several months to recover full strength, mobility and range of motion, but most patients return to normal non-impact sports activities, such as walking and biking, within a few months.

Personalized, Expert Knee Replacement at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is a leading provider of partial and total knee replacement services. Our orthopaedic program has been consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top-ranking programs in the country. Each year, our expert orthopedic surgeons help improve the quality of life of thousands of patients suffering from knee damage.

Our Knee Replacement Surgeons

Each of our expert knee surgeons offers individualized treatment to each patient. You can trust our orthopaedic surgeons to provide expert, compassionate patient care.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with one of our expert knee replacement surgeons, please call 800-294-9999, or fill out an online appointment request form.

Refer a Patient

We are dedicated to working with our referring physicians. If you would like to refer a patient for a knee replacement procedure, please call 1-800-MD-TO-BWH (1-800-638-6294) or see our list of referral options.

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