Knee Replacement, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
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Knee replacement, in all its forms, consists of major surgery, and you should not take it lightly.
with all surgeries, knee replacement carries risks. And, while more than ninety percent of patients who undergo this treatment experience dramatic reduction in pain and improved mobility, it is also possible that something bad could happen.
Fortunately, for every risk, there is a way to reduce or mitigate it. And the very professional and highly experienced staff at Joint Replacement Center by Ortomedica will do everything it can to protect you from a poor outcome.
As the patient, you also will play a very important part in your complete recovery. By following your physician’s instructions to the finest detail, you can improve overall quality of your outcome. There are reasons why your doctors and your physical therapists will tell you to do certain things. And following their instructions strictly is vitally important.
One form of risk from major surgery stems from the use of general anesthesia. General anesthesia means causing the patient to be unconscious to prevent them from feeling pain during the surgery. This method of anesthesia has some risks of its own. Possible side effects can include headache, nausea, drowsiness and sore throat. In very rare cases, use of general anesthesia can lead to difficulty breathing, blood clotting, heart attack or stroke.
At Joint Replacement Center by Ortomedica, we have a strong preference for the use of regional anesthesia. This alternative method involves numbing a large area of the patient’s body, while they remain conscious. Regional anesthesia has less side effects, and a much lower risk of truly dangerous effects such as heart attack or stroke. That means it’s safer for the patient.
Any time your skin is opened for a surgery, it provides an opportunity for bacteria to enter. Signs of infection after the surgery can include redness, swelling, warmth, discharge from the surgical wound, fever and chills.
Our staff takes antiseptic precautions very seriously. And our state-of-the-art facility is kept spotless and thoroughly disinfected regularly, which reduces the risk of infection. If an infection does happen, we are ready to respond, at a moment’s notice, with the appropriate antibiotic medications.
A little bleeding during and after a surgery is completely normal. However, in rare cases, a patient can have too much bleeding. If this happens, the patient can be treated with a transfusion.
Additionally, it is possible for blood to pool under the skin and cause swelling.
If this happens, a second surgery may be necessary to drain the site.
Our staff pays careful attention after the surgery to ensure that any dangerous bleeding is handled quickly and effectively.
Blood Clot Risks
Occasionally, blood clots can form in the veins after a surgery. This can happen as a result of a damaged vein or artery, or when a patient doesn’t move for several days after a surgery. In very severe cases, blood clots can form in the deep veins of the leg. If these blood clots break free, they can travel to the lungs, where they can cause a pulmonary embolism. This is a life-threatening condition.
Ortomedica staff will have a plan in place before your procedure to manage your wound and its healing afterwards. Your doctor may prescribe compression devices to avoid clotting. It is also very important to follow the instructions of your physical therapist, and keep your legs moving. With careful monitoring and proper physical therapy, this risk can be greatly minimized.
Pain and Swelling Risks
Everybody gets pain and swelling after a major surgery. But for some people, it can be overwhelming. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication after the surgery. If the pain lasts longer than expected, further prescriptions or other treatments may be necessary.
If you have swelling around the knee, ankle or foot, you can usually reduce it by applying an ice pack and doing light exercise. Our Patients Report a 2 out of 10 pain in the days post op.
Risk of Neve and Artery Damage
It is possible that, during the surgery, a blood vessel or a nerve might be unintentionally cut or nicked. In the case of arteries, a second surgery can usually repair the problem. A damaged nerve can cause numbness, which can often be permanent.
While there will always be some risk of this kind of damage, our surgeons are always very cautious, and they use the best, high-tech equipment to plan their cuts before making them. This improves precision and reduces the risks to the patient.
Risk of Allergic Reaction
Some patients have natural allergies to metals. Unfortunately, most prosthetic knee implants have some metal components. If you have ever experienced allergic reactions to jewelry in the past, you should ask your doctor to do a test before the surgery. Allergic reactions to knee implants can range in severity from swelling to rashes and blisters. Sometimes, more serious reactions can happen. These may include weakness, diarrhea, headaches or loss of mobility in the joint.
Risk of Implant Failure
No technology is perfect. And knee implants are technological devices. Very rarely, a defective implant can wear out quickly, loosen or lose its stability. If this happens, a second surgery will be required to replace it.
Another possible cause of implant failure is improper use. All machines have maximum load-bearing abilities. If you exceed them, the machine can break. It is very important to follow the instructions of your doctors and your physical therapists. Don’t overdo it. Remember, your goal is long-term mobility.
Once again, every surgery has its risks. But in the hands of expert physicians, those risks can be minimized to ensure the best possible outcome and recovery. If you follow your doctors’ instructions and take your follow-up care seriously, you’ll be back on your own two feet and fully mobile again in no time.