Total Knee Replacement

In total knee replacement, the damaged knee is replaced with an artificial knee joint (prosthesis). The purpose of this surgery is to reduce pain and improve your range of motion. Regaining a near normal range of motion of your knee in the first 3 to 6 weeks after surgery is critical. Generally, these artificial joints last a minimum of 10 years. By that time, about 1 in 10 patients will need another surgery to repair the loose prosthesis.


  • Allergies to food or medicine.

  • Medicines taken, including vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or numbing medicines.

  • History of bleeding problems or blood clots.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.


  • Knee pain.

  • Loss of range of motion of the knee (stiffness) or instability.

  • Loosening of the prosthesis.

  • Infection.


  • If you smoke, quit.

  • You may need a replacement or addition of blood (transfusion) during this procedure. You may want to donate your own blood for storage several weeks before the procedure. This way, your own blood can be stored and given to you if needed. Talk to your surgeon about this option.

  • Do not eat or drink anything for as long as directed by your caregiver before the procedure.

  • You may bathe and brush your teeth before the procedure. Do not swallow the water when brushing your teeth.

  • Scrub the area to be operated on for 5 minutes in the morning before the procedure. Use special soap if you are directed to do so by your caregiver.

  • Take your regular medicines with a small sip of water unless otherwise instructed. Your caregiver will let you know if there are medicines that need to be stopped and for how long.

  • You should be present 60 minutes before your procedure or as directed by your caregiver.


Before surgery, an intravenous (IV) access for giving fluids will be started. You will be given medicines and/or gas to make you sleep (anesthetic). You may be given medicines in your back with a needle to make you numb from the waist down. Your surgeon will take out any damaged cartilage and bone. He or she will then put in new metal, plastic, or ceramic joint surfaces to restore alignment and function to your knee.


You will be taken to the recovery area where a nurse will watch and check your progress. You may have a long, narrow tube (catheter) in your bladder after surgery. The catheter helps you empty your bladder (pass your urine). You may have drainage tubes coming out from under the dressing. These tubes attach to a device that removes blood or fluids that gather after surgery. Once you are awake, stable, and taking fluids well, you will be returned to your room. You will receive physical therapy as prescribed by your caregiver. If you do not have help at home, you may need to go to an extended care facility for a few weeks. If you are sent home with a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine, use it as instructed.