What happens in a total knee arthroplasty procedure?


Quick Answer

During a total knee arthroplasty, a prosthetic replaces some of the kneecap, according to OrthoInfo. First, the surgeon prepares the bone by taking away any damaged cartilage at the ends of the long bones of the leg, the femur and the tibia. A bit of bone is also removed.

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Full Answer

The surgeon then places metal implants in the areas where the bone and cartilage had been, says OrthoInfo. She may use a type of cement to secure the implants or press fit them against the surface. She may or may not resurface the kneecap with a plastic button.

After this, the surgeon inserts a spacer between the metal implants to help the new knee operate smoothly, claims OrthoInfo. The operation itself takes about one or two hours. The surgical team gives the patient either a general anesthesia, which puts him to sleep, or a regional anesthesia that numbs him below the waist.

After the surgery, the patient is moved to a recovery room and monitored for a few hours, says OrthoInfo. He stays in the hospital for a few days where the medical staff gives him medication to ease his pain and prevent blood clots. A physical therapist may start to work with him as soon as a day after the surgery.

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