Questions About What Will Happen During Your Knee Replacement

A knee replacement is often the best option for treating a severely arthritic or seriously injured knee. In the long run, most patients heal up to have very little to no knee pain and greatly improved mobility. But the procedure itself can be a little daunting, particularly if you do not know what to expect. Take a look at the questions and answers below to get a better idea of what will happen during your knee replacement.

What happens when you arrive at the hospital?

Since knee replacements are pretty extensive surgeries, they are typically performed in a hospital rather than at your general orthopedic doctor's office. When you arrive on the day of your surgery, you will be given a surgical gown to change into. An IV will be placed in your arm, and you'll be hooked up to monitors that track your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. Then, your surgeon will have you count backward from 10 after putting anesthetic in the IV, and you'll fall asleep.

What is actually replaced?

In a total knee replacement, the top of the tibia (the bone that forms your shin) is removed. The bottom of your femur (the bone in your thigh) is also removed. Your patella, or knee cap, is removed as well. Then, your surgeon will place a prosthesis where these bones once were. One surface of the prosthesis sits against the tibia, and the other sits against the femur. The surfaces of the prosthesis against the bone are porous so that, over time, the bone can grow into them and stabilize. Basically, you're given a whole new knee — one made from metal and plastic.

How long do you have to be in the hospital after your surgery?

Most patients need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days post-surgery. If you are older, have a chronic health condition like diabetes, or have a history of responding poorly to anesthesia, you may need to stay a little longer. During this time in the hospital, you will be observed to ensure you're able to use the bathroom, eat, and do other basic tasks on your own. Your doctor and a physical therapist will work on helping you regain mobility. You'll walk a little, albeit with a walker to assist you, within a day or two after surgery.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what to expect when you go into the hospital for your knee replacement procedure. Talk to your doctor to learn more.