Interesting Facts about Knee Surgery From The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

  • Knee replacement surgery is one of the most important orthopedic surgical advances of the twentieth century. The first knee replacement surgery was performed in 1968. Improvements in surgical materials and techniques since then have greatly increased its effectiveness.

  • Approximately 581,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States. Most patients who undergo total knee replacement are age 60 to 80. Recommendations for surgery are based on a patient’s pain and disability, not age. Total knee replacements have been performed successfully at all ages, from the young teenager with juvenile arthritis to the elderly patient with degenerative arthritis.

  • More than 90 percent of individuals who undergo total knee replacement surgery experience a dramatic reduction of knee pain and a significant improvement in the ability to perform common activities of daily living. But total knee replacement will not make you a super-athlete or allow you to do more than you could before you developed arthritis.

  • Most knee replacement surgery procedures take approximately 2 hours. During the surgery your orthopedic surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage and bone and then position the new metal and plastic joint surfaces to restore the alignment and function of your knee.

  • Many different types of designs and materials are currently used in total knee replacement surgery, nearly all of which consist of three components: the femoral component (made of a highly polished strong metal), the tibial component (made of a durable plastic often held in a metal tray), and the patellar component (also plastic).

  • The complication rate following total knee replacement is low. Serious complications, such as a knee joint infection, occur in fewer than 2% of patients. Blood clots in the leg veins are the most common complication of knee replacement surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon will outline a prevention program, which may include periodic elevation of your legs, lower leg exercises to increase circulation, support stockings, and medication to thin your blood.

  • The current ten-year survival rates for fixed and mobile bearing unicompartmental knee replacements range from 90% – 95%. The success of your surgery also will depend on how well you follow your orthopedic surgeon’s instructions at home during the first few weeks after surgery.

  • Your new knee may activate metal detectors required for security in airports and some buildings. It is recommended (but not required) that you advise the Security Officer that you have a metal implant and where that implant is located.


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