To perform a knee arthroplasty, orthopaedic surgeons remove cartilage surrounding the tibia and femur, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Metal inserts fill in the empty spaces created after removing the cartilage. Surgeons resurface the knee cap if necessary and add a plastic spacer between the metal inserts.
To determine if patients require knee arthroplasty, orthopaedic surgeons perform medical evaluations that include medical history reviews, knee X-rays, physical exams and blood tests, as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains. Surgeons typically require one to two hours to complete the procedure. Prior to surgery, patients receive local or general anesthesia to reduce pain and increase comfort.
Patients typically remain in the hospital for several days after a knee arthroplasty, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. During this time, patients receive pain medication to manage pain and blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming. To maintain blood flow in the legs and feet, patients should wear compression boots or support hose. Patients typically begin physical therapy the day after surgery.
At-home care includes wound treatment and continued physical therapy, explains the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Patients can replace bandages and dressings, but they must avoid exposing wounds to large amounts of water until they heal. Patients should engage in physical activities such as walking and daily stretching. Patients typically recover from knee arthoplasty within three to six weeks.