Outpatient total knee replacement can provide you with relief and a quick recovery.
Made up of four major bones and 14 ligaments, knees are designed to be fairly durable. Even so, the knee joint is susceptible to wear and tear, injury, and damage from arthritis and similar degenerative conditions. When a knee becomes damaged to the point where conservative treatments are not likely to be effective, total knee replacement (TKR) surgery may become an option.
If you are considered a good candidate, you may benefit from an approach to TKR that’s performed as a minimally invasive (MI) outpatient procedure.
Outpatient MI Total Knee Replacement vs. Traditional Knee Replacement
Both approaches to total knee replacement involve replacing damaged parts, including the lower portion of the thigh bone (femur), upper part of the shinbone (tibia), and kneecap (patella). The difference is that smaller incisions are made. Also, specialized instruments are used to allow the necessary steps to be completed in a way that reduces trauma to nearby structures – which also typically results in a shorter recovery period, fewer surgical risks, and not as much post-procedure discomfort.
Reasons for Total Knee Replacement
Severe damage caused by osteoarthritis (OA) is a common reason for TKR surgery. Knees may also be affected by osteonecrosis of the knee, a condition that limits blood flow to joints and bones. Knees may also need to replaced if an injury has significantly damaged joints, bones, and soft tissues. Some patients benefit from TKR when they have severe knee fractures that haven’t healed properly, chronic knee weakness, instability, or pain, or bone tumors affecting knee joint stability.
How Outpatient Minimally Invasive TKR Is Performed
Prior to surgery, patients are typically advised to quit smoking and avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Certain medications, such as blood thinners, may need to be temporarily stopped to avoid issues with bleeding. Additional image tests are sometimes performed prior to surgery to get a better idea of the extent of the damage to the knee joint.
A small incision is made to gain access to the thigh and shinbones. The different bones within the knee joint are removed along with part of the underside of the kneecap. Synthetic (artificial) versions of those parts are then put into place. Plastic spacers are placed between implanted parts to allow for smooth knee movements.
Good Candidates for Outpatient MI Total Knee Replacement
A “good” candidate for outpatient MI TKR is someone who is otherwise healthy, except for their knee. While it is possible for some older patients to have this procedure, it tends to be recommended more often for younger individuals within their normal weight range without underlying health issues like uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure.
While outpatient minimally invasive total knee replacement allows patients to go home the same day, there are still some follow-up steps that will be necessary during the recovery period. For starters, it can be helpful to prepare your home by removing fall hazards and making arrangements to get a hand with household chores that may place too much stress on your knee. It’s equally important to actively participate in recommended physical therapy or rehab programs so your knee can become fully functional and stable again.