Knee replacement surgery is usually performed under general anaesthetic, spinal anaesthetic or an epidural. The surgeon makes a cut down the front of the knee, exposing the kneecap. Moving this aside to access the joint, the damaged parts of the bones are removed and replaced with prosthetic components, including an artificial joint. The back of the kneecap may also be replaced, depending on the reasons for the surgery.
The procedure is usually only recommended when other treatments haven’t helped, as it is a major operation and you must be able to cope with going through the procedure and the rehabilitation afterwards. It typically involves substantial post-operative pain and includes vigorous physical rehabilitation. Patients may need to use mobility aids (e.g. walking frames, canes, crutches) during recovery time. It usually takes a patient between 3 and 6 months to recover after total knee replacement surgery.
The procedure is likely to take three hours and the life span of an artificial knee joint is around 10-15 years, on average, after which a second knee replacement surgery might be needed.