Total knee reconstruction addresses arthritis in one or both knees. The procedure enables a patient to relieve knee pain, increase the knee joint motion, and correct knee joint deformities.
Common Knee Injuries
Knee reconstruction surgery is intended for individuals who experience progressive knee pain or stiffness that limits mobility. The procedure is associated with many conditions, including:
- ACL Tear: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the shin bone to the thigh bone. An ACL tear causes the knee to buckle during physical activity; when the ACL tears, an individual may hear the ligament “pop.”
- Avascular Necrosis: This condition refers to the death of bone tissue due to insufficient blood supply. It is most common in individuals between the ages of 30 and 60 years of age and results in tiny breaks in the knee bone that cause the bone to collapse.
- Osteoarthritis: Also known as degenerative arthritis of the knee, osteoarthritis is the most common reason for total knee reconstruction. It is a form of arthritis that causes cartilage in the knee joints to break down over time, resulting in joint pain.
Anatomy of Knee Reconstruction
The knee serves as a hinge joint that ensures motion at the point where the thigh and lower leg meet. Also, the thigh bone and lower leg abut at the knee joint. During knee reconstruction, a damaged knee joint is replaced with artificial material. The end of the thigh bone is removed and substituted with a metal shell. Next, the end of the lower leg bone is removed and replaced with a channel plastic piece that features a metal stem. Depending on the condition of the knee cap, a plastic “button” may be added under the kneecap surface.
Additionally, total knee reconstruction involves the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), a tissue that stabilizes all sides of the knee joint. The PCL may be eliminated, retained or replaced during surgery.
Candidates for Knee Reconstruction
Candidates for knee reconstruction surgery generally experience moderate to severe knee arthritis. Most candidates display one or more of the following symptoms:
- Knee swelling and inflammation that cannot be controlled with medication or rest
- Joint degeneration that causes knee deformity such as bow-legs or knock-knees
- Knee pain or stiffness when going up and down stairs or getting in and out of a chair
- Knee pain or stiffness that makes it difficult to rest or sleep
How to Prepare for Knee Reconstruction
An orthopedic surgeon will conduct a physical examination and evaluate an individual’s medical history to learn about the patient’s knee injury. A CT scan, X-rays and other tests may be used to further assess the severity of a patient’s knee injury.
A patient may be required to stop taking aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other medications prior to knee reconstruction surgery. Certain medications suppress the immune system, and as such, may increase a patient’s risk of post-surgical infection.
A patient may be asked to stop smoking and/or consuming alcohol in the weeks leading up to surgery. Nicotine increases a patient’s risk of post-surgical blood clots and hinders the healing process. Heavy alcohol consumption may impact the effects of anesthesia that is used during surgery.
If a patient has diabetes, heart disease or other serious medical conditions, this individual may be required to consult with specialists in those areas. Specialist consultations can help a patient determine whether he or she is a viable candidate for knee reconstruction.
Knee Reconstruction Procedure
Knee reconstruction surgery requires about two hours to complete. During surgery, the knee will be bent into a position that exposes all joint surfaces. Then, an orthopedic surgeon makes an incision, moves aside the knee cap and cuts away from the damaged joint surfaces. The surgeon next attaches the pieces of the artificial joints, bends and rotates the knee to ensure proper function and closes the incision.
Knee Reconstruction Recovery
Full recovery after knee reconstruction surgery may require up to two years. The primary goal in the first few days after surgery is to help a patient minimize knee pain and discomfort. The initial weeks of recovery emphasize helping a patient regain motion in the knee joint, followed by strengthening the knee joint.
Approximately one-and-a-half to two months after surgery, patients can begin light activities like bicycling and jogging. Athletes may require additional recovery time before they can play basketball, football and other sports that involve side-to-side movement. An orthopedic surgeon must clear athletes to return to regular sports activities. Athletes may be asked to wear a knee brace.
Contact an Orthopedic Surgeon in Beverly Hills
LA Peer Health Systems prioritizes patient satisfaction in all that we do. At our Knee Surgery Center of Excellence, our orthopedic surgeons use proven techniques to perform total knee replacement and ensure the best-possible results. To find out more, please call 855-360-9119.