Are you thinking of getting a knee replacement? Have you been advised by your surgeon that this is the best step for you? Do you want to know how good the results can be? If these describe you then you are currently about to make a very important decision in your life and you should read on.
Joint replacement surgery, and more specifically knee replacement surgery, has been one of the most innovative surgical developments in recent times. It has resulted in a vast improvement in the quality of life in those suffering from advanced osteoarthritis and great strides have been made in the development of longer lasting hardware and safer surgical techniques.
Knee replacement is one of the most commonly carried out elective orthopaedic procedures. There are more than 650 000 knee replacements carried out annually in the USA alone, but are people getting the right advice and guidance before making the decision to go under the knife? Patients’ are often advised only by their surgeon and this can carry bias and people can be incorrectly steered into undergoing surgery when it may not be necessary or suitable. It is also sometimes the case that patients are promised breathtaking results only to find that the reality falls far below their expectations.
There is no doubt that knee replacements play an important and beneficial role in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis, but knowing when is the right time to carry it out and whether a patient is suitable is an area of contention and one in which there seems to be much variability. There are various criteria that can be used to assess a patient’s need for a knee replacement, but as has been demonstrated by The Osteoarthritis Research Society International and Outcome Measures in Rheumatology task force, often these criteria are not associated with a Surgeon’s recommendations.
In the end it is the patient who should make the decision as they are the ones who will have to undergo the potentially risky surgery and live with an artificial knee for the rest of their lives. As Doctors, we owe it to our patients to provide them with all the necessary information (both benefits AND risks) to enable them to make an educated informed decision for themselves.
As I am not a surgeon and make no profit from recommending or discouraging knee replacements, I am able to offer impartial advice to my patients and I would like to share the information I give with anyone who is thinking, or has been advised to undergo the surgery.
In the following two articles:
I aim to give a brief overview of when a person should consider a knee replacement and the changes to their life they can realistically expect, from a neutral, non-bias perspective. After reading these I hope you have more of an idea if you need a knee replacement and whether you are likely to be happy with the result.