Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement, also known as knee arthroplasty or knee“resurfacing,” is a procedure aimed at alleviating pain, enhancing mobility, and correcting leg deformities, thereby enabling individuals to return to their normal life activities. It involves the replacement of bone surfaces in the knee that have been damaged by arthritis or injury.

Are your symptoms affecting your quality of life? Consult our MOH-accredited knee replacement surgeon for a personalised treatment plan today.

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Dr Poh Seng Yew

MBBS

MRCSEd

MMED (Ortho)

FRCSEd

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Types of Knee Replacement Procedures

There are two main types of knee replacement surgeries, each addressing different extents of knee damage.

1. Partial Knee Replacement (Unicompartmental Knee Arthroplasty)

This procedure is suitable when arthritis is confined to a single part of the knee. Only the diseased part is replaced, preserving the rest of the healthy knee. This approach maintains the normal biomechanics of the native knee joint while removing the pain.

2. Total Knee Replacement (Total Knee Arthroplasty)

In cases where arthritis affects the entire knee, total knee replacement is considered. This involves replacing the entire knee surface.

Reasons for Knee Replacement

Knee replacement surgery is considered for patients who face challenges due to knee issues, often stemming from arthritis or injury. While most patients undergoing knee replacement are aged 50 to 80, your knee surgeon may consider various factors beyond age when determining suitability for this surgery​.


  • Severe Arthritis: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis are common conditions leading to severe knee damage and necessitating replacement surgery.
  • Severe Knee Pain or Stiffness: Particularly impacting daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and limiting overall mobility.
  • Pain at Rest: Experiencing moderate to severe knee pain even while resting or during the night.
  • Chronic Inflammation and Swelling: Having persistent knee issues that are not responsive to medication or rest.
  • Ineffectiveness of Other Treatments: Lack of substantial relief from non-surgical treatments like medications, corticosteroid injections, or physical therapy.
  • Deformity: Visible bowing in or out of the knee, indicating advanced joint damage.

 

Planning for Knee Replacement Surgery

Before undergoing knee replacement surgery, several steps can be taken:


  • Medical History and Physical Examination: Your knee surgeon will ask questions about your health and symptoms of knee pain. A physical examination will also be conducted to understand knee mobility, strength and alignment.
  • Imaging Tests: X-rays can be used to determine the extent of knee damage. An MRI scan may also be conducted to assess the condition of the cartilage and to see if there is any damage in the meniscus or ligaments.
  • Medication and Supplement Review: You may need to stop certain supplements and medications before surgery.
  • Home Preparations: Consider modifications like installing handrails in the shower for post-surgery support.
  • Anaesthesia Plan: The types of anaesthesia typically used are general anaesthesia, where you are completely asleep, or spinal, epidural, or regional block anaesthesia, which numbs the body from the waist down.

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Surgical Procedure

Choosing Implant Components

Your knee surgeon will typically select from various implant designs. Materials typically include metal for the femur and tibia surfaces, with a durable plastic bearing surface in between. The choice depends on your knee’s condition, activity level, and bone structure.

Procedure Steps
  1. Incision: The surgeon makes an incision over the knee to access the joint.
  2. Removing Damaged Surfaces: Special instruments are used to carefully remove the damaged cartilage and bone.
  3. Preparing the Bone: The bone surface is then prepared to receive the new components.
  4. Positioning Implants: The metal components are positioned and usually cemented onto the bone for stability.
  5. Inserting Spacer: A plastic bearing surface is placed between the metal components to create a smooth gliding surface.
  6. Closing Incision: The incision is closed with stitches or surgical staples.

Benefits of Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement surgery offers numerous advantages, especially for those struggling with chronic knee issues.


  • Pain Relief: The most immediate and noticeable benefit is the reduction or complete elimination of knee pain, which enhances comfort in daily life.
  • Improved Mobility and Function: Patients often experience a marked improvement in walking, climbing stairs, and engaging in activities that were previously hindered by knee pain and stiffness.
  • Correction of Deformity: The surgery aligns the knee properly, correcting deformities like bowing in or out of the knee.
  • Increased Range of Motion: Many patients regain a range of motion they had lost due to knee deterioration.
  • Return To Daily Activities & Sports: The ability to return to everyday activities, hobbies, and even certain sports, improves life satisfaction and independence.
  • Long-Term Symptom Relief: Knee replacements offer long-lasting relief, allowing patients to lead more active and fulfilling lives without the constant hindrance of knee problems.

Possible Complications of Knee Replacement Surgery

While knee replacement surgery is generally safe and effective, it carries the risk of complications. These may include infection, blood clots in the veins, fractures, nerve and vessel injury, and problems with the implant. 

Serious complications occur in less than 2% of patients. Patients are monitored closely to manage and mitigate these risks effectively​​.

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Fix Your Knee Pain With Knee Replacement Surgery

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Recovery and Outlook

Post-surgery recovery and rehabilitation can aid a successful knee replacement surgery.

  • Pain Management
    Initially, some pain is expected, managed through prescribed medications like paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and opioids.
  • Preventing Complications
    Measures such as blood thinners and inflatable leg coverings may be used to reduce blood clot risks.
  • Physical Therapy
    Physical therapy is an integral part of the recovery process, beginning during the hospital stay and continuing as outpatient therapy. The intensity and duration of physical therapy may vary based on individual progress and needs.
  • Wound Care
    Keep the wound dry and attend regular dressing changes to prevent infection.
  • Gradual Return to Activities
    Resuming light activities typically occurs within three to six weeks post-surgery, but this timeline can vary. A gradual increase in activity levels should be based on recovery progress and in consultation with your knee surgeon & physical therapist.

The effects of a knee replacement surgery are generally long-lasting, with patients experiencing an improvement in knee function and a reduction in pain. Regular follow-ups and lifestyle adjustments can help maintain the benefits of the surgery.

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Dr Poh Seng Yew

MBBS

MRCSEd

MMED (Ortho)

FRCSEd

With over 18 years of experience, Dr Poh Seng Yew is an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in hip, knee, shoulder and elbow surgery, sports medicine, and trauma surgery.

  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), National University of Singapore
  • Member, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (MRCSEd)
  • Master of Medicine (Orthopaedic Surgery), National University of Singapore
  • Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, FRCSEd (Orthopaedic Surgery)
  • Clinical Hip and Sports Medicine Fellow, Orthopädische Chirurgie München (OCM), Germany

 

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Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
Singapore 329563
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Weekdays: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Saturdays: 9.00am – 1.00pm
Sundays and Public Holidays: Closed

Fix Your Knee Pain Effectively With Knee Replacement

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    Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
    38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
    Singapore 329563

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the typical recovery time for knee replacement surgery?

    Recovery time varies, but most patients start walking with assistance soon after surgery and return to light activities within 3 to 6 weeks.

    How long do knee replacements last?

    Modern knee replacements can last for many years, often 15 to 20 years, depending on various factors including activity level and implant type.

    Can I kneel after knee replacement surgery?

    Kneeling may be uncomfortable for some patients post-surgery. Discuss this with your knee surgeon during recovery.

    Is knee replacement surgery painful?

    Some pain and discomfort are expected post-surgery, but it is generally manageable with medications and improves with time.

    Are there any restrictions after knee replacement?

    High-impact activities should be avoided to prolong the life of the implant. Consult your knee surgeon for more specific guidelines.