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Knee Replacement Complications – A Comprehensive View

Knee replacement complications do occur after this major and complex operation, with higher incidences in older age groups. Knee replacement removes the abnormal joint surfaces and replaces them with artificial joint components.

If you have major problems with your new joint you may have need to get total knee replacement medical malpractice advice, although this is uncommon.

Knee replacement, also known as total knee arthroplasty, is a medical technology which carried on from the first really successful replaced joint, hip replacement. The damaged joint surfaces are removed in precise ways and new components cemented or press fitted in place, meaning that the whole articulating surface has been renewed. Replacing the whole knee is the most common operation, although partial knee replacement can be appropriate for joint damage which is confined to one side of the knee only.

It is common to have a minor complication at some some time after knee replacement, but these are readily treatable and rarely interrupt the progress of your rehabilitation.

  • Important complications include a DVT or blood clot in the leg, a common occurrence, which can develop into a medically serious matter if part of the clot breaks away and becomes an embolus which lodges in the lung. This DVT, pulmonary embolus or PE is treated with blood thinning drugs and this diagnosis may delay your discharge date by a few days.

  • Infection is the most serious complication, although a very small percentage suffer from this know with the precautions taken. Sterile systems are used in operating theatres and you will be given antibiotics before, during and after you operation typically. Treatment is typically rest and antibiotics although in severe cases the joint components may have to be removed for several months until the infection settles before a new joint can be inserted.

  • Loosening of the joint components is the most serious long term complication. Excessive forces applied to the joint or wear particles from the plastic components can cause bone loss from around the implant. Further replacement of the joint, known as revision, is usually necessary before the joint becomes non-functional. Results are revisions are less good than for the primary surgery and the course of recovery a little more troublesome, although most people do well.

To gain a comprehensive view of the potential knee replacement complications is can be useful to get a first hand account of how the operation goes from a total knee replacement blog or an after knee replacement blog.

This page from eMedicine.com lists the complications of TKA or TKR although it is a bit technical and MedicineNet.com goes through the risks in a less complex manner.


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