Risks of Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement surgery is only undertaken after all non-operative measures are exhausted. Because knee replacement is an elective surgical procedure with inherent medical risk, it is essential that patients strive for optimal medical status prior to surgery.

Possible Anesthesia Complications

The general or regional anesthesia (spinal) used during knee replacement surgery has risks associated with it. These risks are magnified if you have abnormal general medical conditions in addition to older age, which may have affected the functions of your vital organs such as heart, lungs and kidneys. Therefore a complete evaluation of those systems is performed prior to surgery.

Possible Surgical Complications

The complication rate following total knee replacement is low. Serious complications, such as a knee joint infection, occur in less than 2 percent of patients. Major medical complications, such as heart attack or stroke occur even less frequently. Chronic illnesses may increase the potential for complications. Although uncommon, when these complications occur they can prolong or limit your full recovery.

Blood clots in the leg veins are the most common complication of knee replacement surgery. Your orthopaedic surgeon will outline a prevention program, which may include periodic elevation of your legs, lower leg exercises to increase circulation, support stockings, and medication to thin your blood.

Discuss your concerns thoroughly with your orthopaedic surgeon prior to surgery. Make sure that you understand these risks prior your scheduled knee replacement surgery.