Knee Replacement Overview

Preparing for Knee Surgery


­Total knee replacements are performed by orthopedic surgeons. Many specialize in only this procedure. After it's been determined the damage to your knee necessitates a replacement, you'll receive a physical checkup and blood analysis, as well as X-rays that will pinpoint the damaged areas. The patient may donate a unit or two of blood for use during surgery should it be needed.

Before the procedure takes place, the patient should make arrangements to have some help in the weeks following the surgery. Patients should be prepared for an altered life immediately after surgery: stairs should be avoided, as should carrying any significant weight. The living quarters that a patient plans to return to post-surgery should be free of clutter and have handrails in the bathroom and shower. A ride home from the hospital should also be arranged.

You will have a choice when it comes to anesthesia. You can either go "all in" and receive general anesthesia, rendering you unconscious for the procedure, or you can receive a spinal anesthesia or epidural anesthesia. Both involve inserting a needle into your lower back and guiding it between the spine's vertebrae, reaching either the cerebrospinal fluid or the epidural space, at which point local anesthetics and narcotics are delivered. The patient that receives the spinal or epidural anesthesia will remain awake for the procedure, but will be extremely relaxed and may not remember the procedure. The benefits of choosing this method include greater pain control once the surgery is finished and less risk of falling into shock during the procedure. On the other hand, many people desire a complete and total removal of consciousness long before the scalpels come out.

One drawback of general anesthesia is that it takes longer for the patient to fully return to his or her senses, which adds time between the end of the procedure and the start of simple physical therapy techniques needed to help the leg heal.