Possible Complications following Total Knee Replacement

Knee replacement surgery is a common joint replacement surgery performed in the United States and according to statistics over 550,000 knee replacements are done each year. Also known as knee arthroplasty, knee replacement surgery involves replacement of damaged, worn off or problematic joint components with artificial metallic and plastic prosthesis to enable a person to undergo effective range of movements which will increase the quality of life significantly.

What are the indications to perform a total knee replacement?

Before embarking on discussing the possible complications, it is useful to understand why a total knee replacement is performed and one of the commonest causes would be to relieve the debilitating pain and the restricted movements following osteoarthritis. But, it can also be performed in other arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis although severe deformity and damage in such instances may not bring the desired outcomes following total knee replacement. At the same time, injuries and damages to the knee joint structures can also become indications to perform knee replacement surgery although conditions such as osteoporosis is not considered as an indication to undergo the same as it doesn’t usually lead to joint pain or much debilitation in the functioning of the knee.

As mentioned before, not choosing the right indication and disregarding other existing medical problems may make the outcome of a total knee replacement unpredictable and complicated.

What are the possible complications following total knee replacement?

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the commonest complications following knee replacement surgery is the formation of deep vein thrombosis and there would be specific measures prescribed to prevent this complication following undergoing this surgery. Among these measures, lower limb exercises, wearing of pressure stockings as well as the use of blood thinning agents could be highlighted.

Although rare, infections are another possibility following a total knee replacement and early aggressive treatment will reduce the implications of such manifestations to a great extent.

Another complications following total knee replacement is the relative stiffness and the limitations in the expected mobility. Although the surgery is expected to bring about 115 degrees of movement in most patients, it is possible for formation of adhesions and therefore limitations in the final range of motion. At the same time, it should be remembered that, having limited movements before the surgery will increase the likelihood of a similar outcome in replaced joints although it would most likely to improve on the existing range of motion.

Apart from the above, joint instability and fractures can also be part of the list of complications although these are relatively rare in its occurrence.

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