About Orthopaedics & Trauma Practice

Total Knee Replacement

Patients often ask, "What exactly is a total knee replacement?" The simplest answer is that it is a replacement of the worn and arthritic surfaces for the knee joint. It is similar to resurfacing a road full of potholes. A total knee replacement puts an artificial surface on all parts of the joint that contact each other as the knee bends.

 

With arthritis, the cartilage covering the ends of the bone within the knee joint is badly worn. In a knee replacement, this damaged cartilage, along with a very small amount of bone, is removed with precise guides and instruments. The knee replacement implant, which is made of metal and plastic in a variety of sizes, is then fitted to the bone to provide an artificial surface that causes no pain.

A Brief History of Knee Replacements

Knee replacement surgery was first performed in the 1960's with hinged type of implants that did not work well. The problem was early loosening because a hinge did not permit the natural rotation and bending of the knee. These early implants also had high infection rates.

In the mid seventies better implants, called condylar total knee implants, were designed. They came in only two sizes and were solid pieces. Orthopaedists were cautious about using them because of their experience with hinges, but as good results were recognized, more surgeons performed the operations. Implant companies then designed implants that were easier to place, as well as better instruments that made the surgery more reproducible. By the nineties, knee replacement surgery was widely accepted as a good operation with excellent pain relief from arthritis. So the change that made the most difference was an implant that let the knee rotate and allowed the ligaments to provide stability.

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About Dr J. M. Muthuuri

Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon.

Dr J M Muthuuri is a registered board surgeon who has undergone training in various countries (UK, Israel and South Africa). He has 28 years of experience as a doctor, 10 years of Orthpaedic Trauma. He is based at The Mombasa Hospital.

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