What Is It?

In our Waterloo, Independence, and Vinton locations, we perform total Knee Replacement surgery. This is meant to replace damaged and degenerative portions of the knee joint with higher functioning, prosthetic components.

Your knee joint is formed at the meeting place of the thighbone (femur), shinbone (tibia) and kneecap (patella). At the end of each bone, where it would touch others, articular cartilage and other tissue works to protectively absorb shock and encourage free movement. The large thigh muscle strengthens and supports the joint which is held together by just four durable ligaments. The Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) and Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) are located at the side of your knees and work to control sideways bending while limiting awkward, unusual movements. The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) are located inside the knee joint and work together to control and stabilize your knee’s flexion and extension. The ACL is the most well-known and significant of the four ligaments, as it runs diagonally through the middle of the knee joint, providing protection and complete rotational stability.

Why Is It Done?

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of knee pain that requires surgical treatment. Osteoarthritis is primarily age-related, affecting individuals 50 years of age or older. Over time, protective, mobilizing cartilage wears away, causing bones to painfully rub against each other.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes moisturizing tissue to swell and thicken. Over time, this inflammation disrupts cartilage and stiffens movement throughout the entire knee joint.

Post-traumatic arthritis follows many serious knee injuries. When ligaments and bones are damaged in and around the knee joint, cartilage can follow suit, even following the surgical treatment of major knee injuries.

Surgery is often recommended when non-surgical medications and injections prove to be insufficient in patients experiencing severe and debilitating pain. In many cases the knee joint can experience chronic swelling and even deformity.

How Is It Done?

Dr. Ben Torrez will perform a surgical procedure to replace or reconstruct a knee joint. Knee replacement surgery requires anesthesia and a fairly large incision. While modern technology continually aims to make the procedure as minimally invasive as possible, a 5 to 12-inch incision in the front of the knee is typically required.

Also known as an arthroplasty procedure, knee replacement doesn’t actually replace bones but rather resurfaces the damaged areas of cartilage and bone. Damaged cartilage is removed along with small amounts of the underlying femur and tibia. These surfaces are then reshaped to fit artificial joints made of metal and plastic, and are either press fit or cemented to the resurfaced bones with a special material. Between these prosthetic components, a plastic spacer is then inserted to encourage smooth movement within the joint.

In the weeks leading up to your knee replacement surgery, through communication with Dr. Torrez, several actions can help adequately prepare you for the procedure. Dr. Torrez will run a full orthopedic evaluation, cardiogram, blood tests, and many other preparatory screenings. Exercise, healthy dieting, and establishing a rehabilitation action plan are all great ways to manage your pre-procedure process.

The actual procedure will take about 30-45 minutes, but may require a hospital stay for a day. During your stay, nurses will provide necessary pain medication. Movement of the joint becomes possible immediately following the procedure and physical therapy will begin the same day. Most patients will notice significant improvements within the first month, and with frequent exercise and therapy, are able to walk with minimal assistance in six weeks.