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Total Knee Replacement

During total knee replacement surgery, your damaged knee joint is replaced with an artificial joint, called a prosthesis. This surgery almost always reduces joint pain and improves your quality of life.

Total knee prosthesis in place.
The parts of the prosthesis are secured to the bones of the knee. Together they form the new joint.

Before your surgery

You will most likely arrive at the hospital on the morning of the surgery. Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s instructions on preparing for surgery:

  • Follow any directions you are given for taking medicines or for not eating or drinking before surgery.

  • At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked.

  • An IV (intravenous) line will be started to provide fluids and medicines needed during surgery.

The surgical procedure

When the surgical team is ready, you’ll be taken to the operating room. There you’ll be given anesthesia to help you sleep through surgery, or to make you numb from the waist down. Then an incision is made on the front or side of your knee. Any damaged bone is cleaned away, and the new joint components are put into place. The incision is closed with surgical staples or stitches.

After your surgery

After surgery, you’ll be sent to the recovery room. When you are fully awake, you’ll be moved to your room. The nurses will give you medicines to ease your pain. You may have a catheter (small tube) in your bladder. A continuous passive motion machine may be used on your knee to keep it from getting stiff. A sequential compression machine may be used to prevent blood clots by gently squeezing then releasing your leg. You may be given medicine to prevent blood clots. Soon, healthcare providers will help you get up and moving.

When to call your healthcare provider

Once at home, call your healthcare provider if you have any of the symptoms below:

  • An increase in knee pain

  • Pain or swelling in the calf or leg

  • Unusual redness, heat, or drainage at the incision site

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

  • Trouble breathing or chest pain (call 911)

Online Medical Reviewer: Images Reviewed by Staywell medical art team.
Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph, Thomas N., MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Petersen, Sheralee, MPAS, PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 9/20/2015
© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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