Also known as knee arthroplasty, a knee replacement involves removing one or more of the articular surfaces within the knee and replacing them with either ceramic, plastic or metal components.
The articular surfaces in the knee are highly specialised cartilage layers at the ends of the bones, which allow smooth movement against the neighbouring bone while weight-bearing.
Due to conditions including arthritis, injury or joint disease, these surfaces become rough or distorted and movement can become stiff and painful. While conservative treatments may be able to delay surgery, knee replacement is a highly successful procedure for significantly reducing pain and maintaining or improving movement. The primary reason for undertaking a knee replacement is to reduce pain.
Knee replacements are an extremely successful and common operation with over 70,000 performed in the UK each year. The surgeons at the Knee Unit are all senior consultants who regularly perform knee replacement operations and can advise you on the most suitable procedure for your condition, age and activity levels.
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Total Knee Replacements
Patients whose arthritis or knee condition is severe and affects the whole knee, a total knee replacement may be the most suitable procedure to relieve pain and maintain movement.
In total knee replacement, both inner and outer articular surfaces on the femur (thigh bone) and on the tibia (shin bone) are replaced. The prosthesis (replacement components) include a replacement for the anterior cruciate ligament to help maintain normal knee function. The operation may or may not include the patella (knee cap).
The operation usually involves four to five nights in hospital. Using advanced, minimally invasive techniques, patients are often standing on the day following the operation and can begin physiotherapy immediately, with regular sessions each day.
Range of movement following a knee replacement is usually improved, but the operation is primarily performed to remove pain and maintain movement. However, as pain can restrict movement before a replacement operation, patients often find the range of movement increases significantly.
Patients can improve the outcome from a knee replacement operation by starting physiotherapy before the operation. This can improve movement, strenghten muscles and increase flexibility – all of which can lead to a faster and fuller recovery post surgery. For full details of all our physiotherapists, visit their website www.thephysiotherapyunit.org.uk
Partial Knee Replacements
Approximately 20% of patients have a type of arthritis suitable for a partial or unicondylar (one sided) knee replacement. In patients with osteoarthritis limited to the inner weight-bearing surface of the knee joint (medial tibiofemoral surface), a small amount of worn cartilage and underlying bone can be removed from the adjacent surfaces of the inner side of the knee joint. This is then replaced by a specially designed implant. The patient also needs to have a functioning anterior cruciate ligament for this operation to be suitable.
For suitable patients, this operation can be advantageous for the following reasons:
- It does not involve removing the cruciate ligaments from the centre of the knee
- There is less injury to the surrouding muscles including the quadriceps
- Hospital stays are reduced
- Rehabilitation is shorter
Patients typically spend one to two nights in hospital following a partial replacement and need the use of a walking stick for approximately three to four weeks.
Your Consultant will fully investigate your knee using the latest state-of-the-art technology and will advise you on the most suitable procedure for you. Once decided, an individually tailored treatment plan will be put in place. Our dedicated teams of surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists and support staff will be with you throughout your operation and rehabilitation.
If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP. You can simply refer yourself and book an appointment.
If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa PPP, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer to get authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP.
If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use. Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.