Knee Revision Surgery

Artificial knee replacements have become increasingly common over the past 30 years. The first time a joint is replaced with an artificial one the operation is called a primary joint replacement. As people live longer, some of those joints begin to wear out. When this happens, a second operation called a revision arthroplasty may be required. The original components that need to be removed are replaced by new ones. 

The most common reasons for knee revision surgery are:

  • attachment between the artificial joint and the bone has become loose
  • infection of the joint may cause stiffness, pain or loosening
  • fracture of the bone around the joint requires the fracture to be fixed
  • instability of the implant that may cause the joint to dislocate (uncommon)
  • wearing out of one or more parts of the implant that requires it to be changed
  • breakage of the implant requires replacement

The surgeon carefully plans for a knee revision surgery. Before scheduling knee revision surgery, the surgeon may order special tests to determine the condition of your artificial joint. The preparation for surgery and the hospital experience tend to be very similar to patients experiencing their first joint replacement. However, the length of the surgery may be longer.

While knee revision surgery can be very successful, it is less predictable than the original surgery. Knee revision procedures are not routine, each one is very different and can be quite complex. Your surgeon may find additional bone loss and fragility. If needed, he will rebuild the joint using special types of joint revision prostheses and possibly bone grafting. Infections usually require joint removal with a special prosthesis inserted until the infection has been cleared.

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