What is knee replacement surgery? Types, Risks and Complications



Knee replacement surgery or knee arthroplasty, is routinely performed on patients with severe knee joint deterioration or arthritis to relieve pain and improve mobility. Even though knee replacement surgery is frequently a safe and effective treatment, it does have risks, just like any surgical procedure. This article will discuss both immediate and long-term risks associated with knee replacement surgery.

What is Knee Replacement Surgery?

During the knee replacement surgery, the damaged bone and cartilage will be removed and replaced with an artificial implant frequently made of ceramic, high-grade polymers, or metal alloys. The goal is to enhance the patient's quality of life while regaining the knee's normal function and minimising pain.

What are the Types of Knee Replacement Surgery?

Different knee replacement procedures exist, each intended to address a particular element of knee joint disease. The most usual surgery types include:

  • Total Knee Replacement (TKR):

This procedure involves replacing the whole knee joint with prosthetic components. The femur's (thigh bone) and tibia's (shin bone) damaged ends are removed, and metal and plastic implants are used to rebuild the joint surfaces. Depending on the patient's health, the patella (kneecap) may also be resurfaced with a plastic component.

  • Partial Knee Replacement (PKR):

This may be necessary if arthritis or damage only affects a section of the knee joint. A partial knee replacement treatment that replaces the damaged portion of the knee joint may be used in such circumstances. This method has a shorter recovery and is less invasive than a complete knee replacement.

  • Revision Knee Replacement:

Occasionally, a previously implanted knee replacement may fail or become problematic over time. In these instances, revision knee replacement surgery may be necessary to replace or repair the existing implants.

Although these are the most common knee replacement surgery, new modifications, and surgical approaches are constantly being developed. Depending on the patient's unique demands and the surgeon's experience, the surgeon may use other methods, implant designs, or minimally invasive techniques.

What are the Immediate Risks and Complications of Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery has the following complications such as:


After knee surgery, surgical site infections pose a danger. Infections can happen despite stringent preventative efforts, such as administering antibiotics, sterilisation procedures, and tight operating room regulations.

Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism

These are the most significant post-operative blood clot issues. A severe health risk arises when blood clots form in the legs and perhaps spread to the lungs. Several preventative steps are implemented to decrease these risks, such as blood thinners and early mobilisation.

Implant Failure:

Despite being very rare, implant failure can occur due to implant loosening, dislocation, or general wear and tear over time. Revision knee surgery can be needed to address these issues.

Nerve or Blood Vessel Damage:

Nerves and blood vessels around the knee joint may be damaged during the surgical procedure, resulting in sensory or motor deficits or vascular complications. Skilled surgeons take precautions to minimise the risk of such damage, but it cannot be eliminated.

Allergic Reactions:

Some patients may experience allergic reactions to the materials used in knee implants. This hasard is generally low. However, it is fundamental to distinguish and deal with any unfavourably susceptible reactions immediately.

What are the Long Term Complications of Knee Replacement Surgery?

Some of the long term complications of knee replacement surgey include:

Joint Stiffness:

Some patients may have joint stiffness or restricted range of motion following knee replacement surgery. Physical therapy and rehabilitation can help manage this, but more extensive medical treatment may be needed in rare circumstances.

Persistent Pain:

While knee replacement surgery typically relieves pain, some individuals may experience persistent discomfort or pain even after the procedure. Identifying the underlying cause and implementing appropriate treatment strategies are necessary.

Implant Wear and Loosening:

The artificial knee joint may experience wear and tear over time, leading to implant loosening or instability. This can cause pain and impaired functionality and may necessitate revision surgery to replace the implant.

Inflammation and Infection:

Tissues around the knee joint may experience chronic inflammation or low-grade infections, resulting in continuous discomfort and functional restrictions. Careful assessment and treatment are required in these situations.

Complications in the Elderly:

Older individuals may face specific challenges during knee replacement surgery, including a higher risk of medical complications, slower recovery, and limited overall improvement. Careful patient selection and personalised care are crucial for managing these risks.

When to Get Knee Replacement Surgery?

When non-surgical options, including prescription, physical therapy, and assistive gadgets, can't adequately relieve knee torment and restricted mobility, knee substitution medical procedure is frequently investigated.

The seriousness of the side effects, how they affect day-to-day living and quality of life, and whether the knee joint has structural harm, all play a part in the choice to have knee replacement surgery.

Common indications for knee replacement surgery include:

  • Severe pain: Persistent knee pain that influences daily activities like walking, climbing stairs, or getting in and out of chairs.
  • Limited mobility: Significant knee joint movement restrictions make it difficult to perform routine tasks or participate in desired activities.
  • Functional impairment: No response to non-surgical treatments like physical therapy or painkillers.
  • Structural damage seen in X-ray or MRI is evidence of significant joint damage, such as bone-on-bone contact, cartilage loss, or deformity.

It's important to remember that knee replacement surgery is often only recommended for those bodies that didn’t respond to all other treatment options, are still dealing with severe symptoms, and have chronic, incapacitating pain.

When to Consult a Knee Surgeon?

One of the most crucial steps in ensuring a successful treatment is consulting with a trained and experienced knee surgeon. A knee surgeon's areas of specialisation include the diagnosis, treatment, and surgical management of knee problems, including knee replacement surgery.

When selecting a knee surgeon, consider the following factors:

  • Qualifications and Experience:

Select a board-certified surgeon with a lot of expertise in conducting knee replacement surgery if you want the best results. Think about their success rates and their knowledge of particular surgical procedures.

  • Reputation and patient reviews:

Read patient testimonials and reviews to understand the surgeon's reputation and patient satisfaction.

  • Hospital and surgical facility:

Assess the quality of the hospital or surgical facility where the surgeon operates. Ensure that it is equipped with modern technology, such as robotic knee replacement, and adheres to strict safety protocols.

  • Trust and communication:

Establish strong communication with the surgeon during the initial consultation. They must be able to answer your worries, thoroughly describe the surgical procedure, and go through the advantages and disadvantages.

The knee surgeon will evaluate your knee issue thoroughly at the consultation, go over your medical history, and give the best course of action, which may include knee replacement surgery.


Patients with serious knee joint degeneration can significantly improve their quality of life with the widely acknowledged and effective process of knee replacement surgery. While certain dangers are associated with surgery, such as short-term and long-term difficulties, most patients report significant pain reduction and increased mobility. The probability and seriousness of these risks can be reduced by making a prudent move and offering post-operative care. People looking for knee replacement medical procedures should consult their doctors to get a complete understanding of the procedure's benefits and drawbacks.