Knee Replacement Risks
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Knee replacement risks are minimal. It is overall a very safe procedure and can be a very effective treatment for knee arthritis.
Though uncommon, infection after knee replacement can be very disruptive to the patient's life. Treatment of infection around a knee replacement usually requires removal of the knee replacement, installation of an antibiotic knee replacement for three months and later a third operation to place a new permanent knee replacement.
We take several steps to prevent infection before, during and after the surgery, and the University of Maryland is a leader in research into how to prevent and treat knee infection.
Another uncommon but possible complication of knee replacement is stiffness. However, knee replacement does not usually provide people with more knee bending than they had before the operation. Although most patients will have at least the same range of motion, some are exuberant scar tissue formers who have less motion in the knee after knee replacement surgery than before. However, knee replacement does not usually provide people with more knee bending than they had before the operation.
Instability is one of the main reasons to undergo knee replacement. In most cases, the stability of the knee replacement is better than that of the preoperative arthritic knee. However, some patients experience instability after knee replacement or develop it over time and need to have the knee replacement redone to improve its stability.
Incomplete Relief of Pain
Although knee replacement is very effective at relieving pain, approximately 5 to 10 percent of patients who undergo knee replacement still have pain afterward. This could be as minimal as occasional pain on cold days, or it could be pain with climbing stairs or level walking.
Nerve and Artery Damage
The knee is surrounded by major nerves and arteries, and it is sometimes possible for them to be injured during surgery. With the worst injuries, the patient can lose the leg. Fortunately, this is very rare and specific steps to avoid it are taken during surgery.
Medical complications of knee replacement surgery are uncommon but can include blood clots in the lung or leg, heart attack, stroke and even death. These risks are minimized by optimizing the patient's weight and medical status before the operation in conjunction with the primary care doctor.