Total Knee Arthroplasty

Knee arthroplasty refers to the surgical replacement of the knee to relieve pain and restore functioning of patients with knee osteoarthritis. The process involves a surgeon cutting away the cartilage and bone from the knee region and replacing it with an artificial joint made from polymers or plastics. Initially, surgeons used sing crude hinges, but technology advances provides patients with a variety to choose with respect to their weight and age. Knee arthroplasty aims to replicate the functioning of the knee joint in its natural form.

Patients with arthritis commonly undergo the procedure to repair damage caused on the knee joint. These patients often have difficulties in activities that involve folding of the knee such as climbing stairs and walking. The surgery has risks including infections, blood clots, heart attack, nerve damage, and strokes. Infections are common with total knee arthroplasty as patients experience high fever, chills, tenderness, and pain around the surgical area. In the event of an infection, the patient undergoes a second surgery to remove the artificial parts. Removal of the parts follows intake of antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the infection. When the infection clears, another surgery follows to install a new joint. The more a patient undergoes arthroplasty, the less the chances of having an excellent outcome. Arthroplasty does not solve the problem as it wears out with time. Failure of the artificial joint due to stress occurs even with the use of the strongest plastics and metals. High impact activities and increased weight increase the chances of failure on the installed joint.

The procedure of performing an arthroplasty involves taking medical history and physical examination of the patient. Physical examination requires the surgeon to assess the stability, strength, and motion of the knee. MRI and X-ray aid doctors in assessing the extent of the knee damage. Patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty require anesthesia to relieve pain during surgery. The surgical team uses the personal preference of the patient to determine whether to inject a general or spinal anesthesia. A general anesthesia makes the patient unconscious during the operation but the spinal anesthesia numbs the nerves from the waist down. Doctors advise patients on the prerequisites of surgery such as dietary supplements and medication.

Total knee arthroplasty aids patients to relieve knee pain and increase their activity. It is vital for research to continue on the risks, infections, and management methods to ease the effects of the surgery.

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