Reviewed by Michael Smith on September 21, 2016


Sutter Health: “Knee Replacement Procedure: What Happens During Surgery.”, Mayo Clinic: “Knee Replacement: What You Can Expect.”

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Video Transcript

SPEAKER: Your knee joint is made up of three main bones, the femur, or thigh bone, the tibia, or shin bone, and the patella, or kneecap. They slide in a groove surrounded by cartilage.

In total knee replacement surgery, a badly functioning or very painful knee is repaired with artificial parts. Your whole knee isn't actually replaced. The damaged parts get new surfaces that will work better, which will help you move without pain.

To start, your doctor makes a cut along the front edge of your knee. He'll separate the surrounding muscles and ligaments to get into the joint. Next he'll remove all the damaged bone and cartilage at the end of the bones, as well as the underside of your kneecap.

Next he'll prep your bone to receive your new artificial knee. Like your knee it has three parts called the femoral, tibial, and patellar components.

Then the surgeon will cement the new pieces into place, but before he closes your knee he'll take an x-ray to make sure that everything is where it's supposed to be.

Finally he'll close your knee with stitches or staples, and put in a temporary drain so that any fluid that may develop can flow out.