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Information for Patients & Caregivers

Knee Replacement

What is a knee replacement?

This is an operation to replace the knee joint with metal and plastic components. The very bottom of the thigh bone (femur) and top of the shin bone (tibia) are removed and the bone ends are replaced with a metal piece on the bottom of the thigh bone and a plastic/metal component on the top of the shin bone.

In addition, the back of the kneecap (patella) may also be resurfaced.  The operation is done to relieve pain which is usually caused by wear and tear of the knee joint. The operation may also increase the mobility of the knee.

There are two types of knee replacement:

Partial knee replacement
A partial knee replacement involves resurfacing the worn part of the knee.  This operation is usually carried out if only part of the knee is worn.

Total knee replacement
The knee joint is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. The knee is made up of the lower end of the thigh bone (femur) which rotates on the upper end of the shin bone (tibia) and the kneecap (patella) which slides in a groove on the end of the femur. Large ligaments attached to the femur and the tibia provides stability. The long thigh muscles give the knee strength.

Total knee replacement involves replacement of the injured or damaged part of the knee with artificial parts. Your new knee will consist of a metal component on the end of your thigh bone, a metal and plastic spacer on the upper end of the shin bone and if needed a plastic button on the kneecap.

If you have any questions on knee replacement surgery please speak with your doctor or your orthopaedic surgeon.

To learn more about Biomet, and to read stories about individuals who have had knee replacement go to www.oxfordpartialknee.net.

The knee replacement operation
Surgery usually lasts between 1 to 2 hours and the patient generally stay in hospital can be between 3 to 10 days. The operation is performed via an incision in the front of the knee of 4 to 9 inches long. Stitches or clips may be dissolvable, but non-dissolvable types usually need to be removed at about 2 weeks after surgery.

Recovery after knee replacement surgery
The time it takes for a patient to return home depends on a number of factors including social circumstances; people in single storey homes and flats or houses with bathrooms and bedrooms downstairs get home quicker than people with lots of stairs. People having a responsible carer or family member may do better than those who live alone.

Return to work
Usually this is at the 3-month stage, but many people, especially those in sedentary jobs may be able to return quicker than this.  Everyone is different and your doctor will advise you on when you will be ready to return to work.