In a total knee replacement, both of your knee joints are replaced. It usually takes 2 – 3 hours for the procedure to finish.
Your surgeon creates an incision in front of your knee exposing the knee cap. It is then moved to the side so the surgeon can access the knee joint behind it.
The useless ends of your thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) are removed with care. The ends are carefully measured and formed to match the custom-made prosthetic replacement. A test or dummy joint is placed to see if the joint is functioning properly. Changes are made, the ends of the bones are cleaned, and the final prosthesis is built in.
The end of your thigh bone is replaced by a curved piece of metal, and the end of your shin bone is replaced by a flat metal plate. These are positioned using special bone cement, or are treated to promote fusing of the replacement parts and your bone. A plastic spacer is positioned between the pieces of metal which will function like a cartilage lessening friction as your joint moves. Please refer to the figure below.
The back of the kneecap might be replaced, based on the factors that promote replacement.
The wound is closed with stitches or clips and a dressing is applied to the wound.
In a few situations a splint is employed to keep your leg immobile. However, you are advised to move your knee as soon as possible.
The replacement should last approximately 15 to 20 years.
Remember, you are still likely to have some trouble moving, specially bending your knee, and kneeling is possibly difficult due to the scar.