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What is a Knee Replacement Revision?


Hundreds of thousands of Americans have total knee replacement surgery each year to treat severe knee arthritis that no longer responds to conservative treatments. Conservative treatments are those such as medications, physical therapy, or injections. In this surgery, the damaged joint surfaces of the knee are replaced with artificial metal and plastic implants. These knee implants may last individuals 20 or more years. For some people, their knee implants will last the rest of their lives. However, some knee replacements do not last as long as patients and their providers hope or wear out over time.

“I think every knee replacement surgeon hopes that the knee replacement they do for each patient is the last knee surgery for that individual. But sometimes knee replacements wear out over time or may not function as well as we hoped,” said Summit hip and knee surgeon and total joint replacement specialist Brandon Kelly, M.D.

What is a knee replacement revision?

A knee replacement revision is a surgery to replace one or multiple knee replacement parts with new ones. The specifics of each revision surgery depend on how and where the original implant is failing. Other factors include the individual patient’s age, health, activity level, and other factors.

The need for a knee replacement revision surgery is an individualized decision made between the patient and the surgeon. It is typically recommended when there is a problem with the current knee replacement implants or if the knee is not meeting the patient’s quality of life goals. The decision for knee replacement revision is individualized to each patient’s medical and social factors. Sometimes, surgical intervention may not align with every patient’s goals of care.

“Knee replacement revision is usually a big decision for patients and surgeons. I like to educate my patients on what’s going well and what’s not going well with their current knee replacements. Then we discuss what may or may not be improved with revision knee replacement surgery before proceeding with surgery. I like to understand my patients’ goals to ensure I can meet them before proceeding with surgical intervention,” Dr. Kelly noted.

What else is important to know about knee revision surgery?

Revision knee replacement surgery is typically a more complex, longer, and technically challenging surgery than total knee replacement. That’s why it’s important to choose your knee revision specialist carefully. There are many factors that contribute to postoperative recovery, but recovery time after revision knee replacement surgery in most circumstances is similar to a total knee replacement surgery.

As with a first-time knee replacement, preoperative and postoperative physical therapy is vital to help condition and strengthen the lower extremities.