• Knee Replacement at St. Mary-Corwin

  • What is total knee replacement?
    The term total knee replacement is misleading. The knee itself is not replaced, as is commonly thought, but rather an implant is used to resurface the worn bone ends. This is done with a metal alloy on the femur and a plastic spacer on the tibia and patella (kneecap). The implant is attached with special cement. This creates a new, smooth cushion and a function joint that can reduce or eliminate pain. Knee Replacement at St. Mary-Corwin Pueblo

    How is the replacement performed?
    After anesthesia has taken effect:

    • The surgeon cuts open the knee, moves the patella out of the way and then cuts the shin and thigh bones to fit the implant.
    • A cut is made on the back-side of the patella to prepare for the two pieces of the prosthesis that will be attached to it.
    • One end of the prosthesis is attached to the shin bone and one is attached to the thigh bone and then both pieces are attached to the back of the patella.
    • After the prosthesis is in place, the surgeon will repair the muscles and tendons around the implant.

    How long will my new knee last and can a second replacement be done?
    All implants have a limited life expectancy depending on an individual's age, weight, activity level, and medical condition(s). A total joint implant's longevity will vary in every patient. It is important to remember that an implant is a medical device subject to wear that may lead to mechanical failure. While it is important to follow all of the surgeon's recommendations after surgery, there is no guarantee that a particular implant will last for any specified length of time.

    What are the major risks?
    Most surgeries go well, without any complications. Infection and blood clots are two serious complications. To avoid these complications, the surgeon may use antibiotics and blood thinners. Surgeons also take special precautions in the operating room to reduce the risk of infection.

    What happens during the surgery?
    St. Mary-Corwin reserves approximately two hours for surgery. Some of this time will be taken by the operating room staff to prepare for surgery. Patients may have a general anesthetic, which most people call "being put to sleep." Rarely, a spinal or epidural is used. This procedure numbs the legs and does not require the patient being put to sleep. The choice is between the patient, the surgeon, and the anesthesiologists.

    Will the surgery be painful?
    There will be discomfort following the surgery, but we try to keep each patient as comfortable as possible with the appropriate medication and alternative therapy such as soothing music from our harpist or ice therapy.

    How long will the scar be?
    Surgical scars will vary in length, but most surgeons will make it as short as possible. Generally, it will be straight down the center of the knee. There may be lasting numbness around the scar.

    What types of walking aids are used?
    Patients progress at their own rate. Normally we recommend that using a walker, crutches, or a cane from four to six weeks.

    Is physical therapy necessary after discharge from the hospital?
    Yes, either outpatient or in-home physical therapy will be necessary. Patients are encouraged to utilize outpatient physical therapy. St. Mary-Corwin will help patients arrange for an outpatient physical therapy appointment. If home physical therapy is needed, we will arrange for a physical therapist to provide in-home therapy.

    Do new knees set off security sensors when traveling?
    The joint replacement is made of a metal alloy and may or may not be detected when going through some security devices. Patients should carry a medical alert card indicating the existence of an artificial joint.

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    For more information about our Joint Replacement Center please call 719-557-5622.

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