Knee replacement surgery or arthroscopy is the process of replacing a worn, damaged or diseased knee with an artificial joint. It is a routine operation offered to adults of any age but is most frequently carried out on patients between the ages of 60 and 80. Arthroscopy is usually offered when the knee is affecting mobility and causing pain, even when resting.
Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for knee replacement surgery. The knee joint can also be damaged by other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, gout and haemophilia. As with other major surgeries, arthroscopy will usually only be offered after other treatments have been tried, such as steroid injections and physiotherapy.
Once surgery is being considered as an option, there are further decisions to be made based on the severity of the knee condition. A total knee replacement is when both sides of the knee joint are replaced. Alternatively, a partial knee replacement only replaces half of the knee joint, requiring a shorter hospital stay and reducing recovery time.
Patients are increasingly asking about robot-assisted surgeries or 3D printed knee replacements. These techniques help surgeons to perform a well aligned knee replacement surgery. Robot-assisted surgery can provide patients with less post-operative pain and faster discharge from hospital.
The idea of a 3D printed knee offers an attractive option for patients; the knee replacement is printed after a 3D scan of the knee, ensuring it perfectly fits the patient. However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that this type of replacement joint offers the patient any difference in clinical outcome.
Arthritic knees typically require a full knee replacement; the patella, tibia and femur are resurfaced, and a layer of polyethylene is introduced as a shock absorber. Professor Ali Ghoz is a leading orthopaedic surgeon who offers a technique which cements the replacement joint on to the bone to aid faster recovery and minimise discomfort. Successful knee replacements can last between 25 and 30 years.
Studies have found that over 85% of arthroscopy patients will go on to live full and active lives. Knee replacement surgery frequently offers pain-free and functional results which can give quality of life back to patients.