What is a Revision Knee Replacement?

by Jsantos, October 25, 2017

What is a Revision Knee Replacement?

If you’ve recently had a total knee replacement, you’ve probably noticed marked improvement in your daily life and activity level. Once you’ve recovered, you may feel years younger and be more active than ever. However, if you stress your total knee replacement, or recovery does not go as planned, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend another option: revision knee replacement.

Essentially, revision knee replacement is an “update” to the replacement parts used in your initial surgery. Once this is done, the new parts should make recovery (and quality of life) much better.

When is a revision knee replacement recommended? 

We always hope that the initial knee replacement surgery works well and that patients recover quickly. However, things happen and the initial surgery may not hold up as well as hoped. Instances where we recommend revision knee replacement include:

  • Loose/weak implants. Sometimes, the parts used in your first replacement don’t work like they should. Patients experience pain and difficulty walking after recovery when these parts start to break down.
  • Infection. Our bodies don’t always appreciate foreign objects, which leads to a reaction. When our immune system responds, an infection can start in the knee, causing recovery to become very delayed.
  • Fractures. Unfortunately, falls and accidents happen. If you fracture the space around your knee after a TKR, your replacement parts may become dislocated or stressed.
  • Stiffness or instability. Without proper physical therapy, or sometimes just as we age, the initial replacement causes stiffness or weak/unstable gait. If it doesn’t get better with physical therapy, parts may need to be replaced.

How does a revision knee replacement work? 

Your revision knee replacement surgeon is only going to recommend this operation if it is absolutely necessary. That’s because the surgery is slightly longer than the initial replacement surgery, and it requires a lot more planning. A revision knee replacement is designed to specifically target the replacement parts that aren’t working and update them with better parts.

There are three kinds of revision surgery:

  • Femoral
  • Tibial
  • Patellar

Sometimes, all three components need to be fixed if your TKR has totally failed. But most of the time, the revisions target one of these three areas and the parts that help those areas work.

Bone damage is also something to take into account when doing revision knee replacement. Your surgeon may have to use specialized parts to fit the increased “open space” where bone should be to create a better fit.

Once the surgeon is satisfied with the replacements, you’ll be taken out of surgery and into recovery!

Will a revision knee replacement work? 

Thanks to the extensive planning involved in this surgery, outcomes are generally very favorable. However, it is still a second major surgery and some stiffness from scar tissue may cause problems down the road.

Overall, this surgery will do what the first replacement was not able to do – improve quality of life for patients!



Orthopedic Corner | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201  Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119

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