All You Need to Know About a Knee Revision Surgery


Many people who have had partial or total knee replacement surgery live with the implants for about 15 to 20 years. That means some patients, especially those who have had surgery at a younger age, may need a second operation or a knee revision surgery Chevy Chase to clean the bone surfaces or replace the implants. If you have a failed knee replacement, your surgeon may recommend revision surgery to alleviate pain and restore function.

What is knee revision surgery?

A knee revision surgery is a procedure to replace prosthetic implants of someone who previously had a total knee replacement surgery. In this second operation, the surgeon removes the original prosthesis and replaces it with a new one.

A knee revision may involve replacing only one implant, but sometimes it requires a complete exchange of all the prostheses implanted during the initial knee replacement surgery. Revision knee replacement is a complex procedure requiring extensive preoperative planning, prolonged operating times, mastery of complicated surgical techniques, and specialized implants and tools.

How safe is knee revision surgery?

The second operation after a partial or total knee replacement can be complex and challenging for the surgeon and recipient; this is especially true if the original implant has to be removed. Depending on the length of time, the prosthetic may have become attached to existing bone. In such cases, once the surgeon removes the original implant, there is less bone left behind.

It is also important to note that revisions are more prone to complications and don’t offer the same life span as the original surgery. This is typically due to increased surgical time, trauma, scar tissue, and potential poor blood supply to tissues and bone. An individual is also four times more likely to develop an infection after a knee replacement revision than after the initial surgery.

When would I need knee revision surgery?

You may need knee revision surgery if your prosthetic knee implant fails due to wear or tear or if you have an infection in the area around the implant. Older adults with knee replacement often require no revision because their movement is minimal. But in younger patients, the knee prostheses may eventually fail, especially for individuals who maintain an active lifestyle. When an artificial knee implant fails, a second replacement is usually necessary. Below are common reasons why people have knee revisions.

  • Infection. There is less than a 1% chance of an infection occurring after total knee replacement. But when it happens, you may need a knee revision of one kind or the other.
  • Stiffness. Excessive scar tissue may form around the knee, preventing the joint from moving. You may need a second surgery to remove the scar tissue in such cases.
  • Instability. This is when the soft tissues around the knee can’t offer enough stability to perform while standing or walking.
  • Wear and tear. The prosthesis components can loosen or break due to friction over time.

If you have further questions about knee revision surgery, consult your specialist at Gautam Siram MD.

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