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Revision Knee Replacement: An Insider's Look

Total knee replacement surgeries are an extremely effective option for those persons suffering from joint injuries or joint tissue loss. A total knee replacement enables people to live more active lives, return to their former activities, and experience relief from debilitating symptoms like pain and stiffness. Studies show total knee replacements lasting 15 – 20 years and longer.

However, a knee replacement may fail for a variety of reasons and will not last forever. The plastics and metals that make up the artificial joint have a limited lifespan. Modern medicine has yet to develop a fail-proof knee.

Person with Knee Pain

When the replacement joint fails, it can become painful and swollen. You may be frustrated to experience a recurrence of symptoms similar to those that inspired you to get a knee replacement in the first place.

Thankfully, there is a solution: revision knee replacement surgery. This is a procedure conducted by a total joint specialist, or orthopedic surgeon specializing in joint replacement and reconstruction, that aims to remove all or parts of the prosthetic knee and replace it with new ones.

It's important to note that revision knee replacement surgery and total knee replacement surgery are different. Here's how.

Primary Knee Replacement

Primary knee replacement surgery, or the first instance of placing a prosthetic into your knee joint, is when a surgeon will replace the surfaces of your femur, tibia, and patella bones with metal implants.

Knee Revision Surgery

During revision surgery, a surgeon will remove one or all three components of a knee prosthetic. You may even need to have portions of the bone repaired with grafts. You may receive a whole new prosthetic joint, and it may be different from the previous one.

Doctors may recommend revision knee replacement surgery if you're experiencing symptoms like continued knee pain, and/or if an X-ray shows the implant has become loose or worn.

If you engage in high-impact activities, are obese, or were very young when the first prosthetic was implanted, you're more likely to need revision knee replacement.

It is important to note that revision procedures can be more complex than the original total knee replacement. The procedure involves more pre-operative preparation, specialized tools, and possibly special replacement component parts.

About the Surgery

You should consult with an orthopedic surgeon if you are experiencing pain or any other unusual symptoms around your artificial joint. They will evaluate your knee, and provide you with different treatment options. One option may be a revision surgery. Once you have been cleared for surgery by your primary care physician and possibly with other specialists, your surgery will be scheduled.

You will be admitted to a hospital and will likely be put under general anesthesia before the surgery begins. Revision knee replacement surgery can be complex, and may actually take longer than the primary procedure. Expect it to take up to 2 to 3 hours in most cases.

Your surgeon will find the original incision used during the primary procedure, then cut there again. They will use this incision to access the artificial joint, remove any damaged components, inspect your knee for signs of infection, and then place new implants. You may need to have bone grafts to help rebuild the knee, or have soft tissue repaired. Once the prosthetic has been repaired or replaced, the surgeon will close the incision.

Doctor Examines Knee

You'll need to recover in a hospital for a few days. Expect some pain and to spend some time off your feet after the procedure. Your doctor will prescribe medications for short term pain relief to help you recover.

You will likely need some physical therapy to help regain strength in your leg and restore your range of motion. After a few weeks, you should feel relief enabling a return to your former activities.

Overall, revision knee replacement surgery in Atlanta is safe and effective. For questions about knee cartilage replacements, knee pain, and other joint issues, visit OrthoAtlanta. Their team of knee replacement specialists can evaluate your knee and help you recover from your symptoms, with or without surgery.

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