Knee Revision

In 85% to 90% of people who have a total knee replacement, the knee implants used will last about 15 to 20 years. This means that some patients who have a knee replacement at a younger age may eventually need a second operation to clean the bone surfaces and re-fixate the implants. Others may need to have one or more of their implants replaced entirely with new ones. This is called revision total knee replacement or knee revision.

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Knee Revision

A knee revision is the replacement of prosthetic implants in a person who previously had a total knee replacement. In this surgery, known as a “reoperation,” an original prosthesis is removed and a new prosthesis put in place.

Some knee revisions may require the replacement of only one implant, while others require a complete exchange of all the prostheses that were implanted during the original knee replacement surgery (known as “revision total knee replacement”). A complete revision of this type is a complex procedure that requires extensive preoperative planning, specialized implants and tools, prolonged operating times, and mastery of difficult surgical techniques.

When Surgery Is Recommended

There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery. People who benefit from total knee replacement often have:

A knee that has become bowed as a result of severe arthritis.

  • Severe knee pain or stiffness that limits your everyday activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs. You may find it hard to walk more than a few blocks without significant pain and you may need to use a cane or walker.
  • Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, either day or night
  • Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications
  • Knee deformity — a bowing in or out of your knee
  • Failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, lubricating injections, physical therapy, or other surgeries

Common Reasons for Knee Revision

A knee revision may be necessary for anyone whose prosthetic knee implant fails due to injury or wear, or who gets an infection in the area around the implant.

In elderly people who have a knee replacement, artificial knee implants may last for life. But in younger patients, especially those who maintain an active lifestyle, knee prostheses may eventually fail, requiring a second replacement later in life.

The most common reasons people for knee revision are:

Infection

The risk of infection from a total knee replacement is less than 1%, but when infections do occur, a knee revision of one kind or another is necessary.

Instability

This occurs when the soft tissues around the knee are unable to provide the stability necessary for adequate function while standing or walking.

Stiffness

In some patients, excessive scar tissue may build up around the knee and prevents the joint from moving fully.

Lowcountry Orthopaedics’ Hip & Knee Team

Richard Zimlich, MD

Eric Stem, MD

Sarah Burden, FNP-BC

Tony McCurry, Jr, PA-C

Morgan Conde, PA-C

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2880 Tricom Street
North Charleston, SC 29406

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