Knee replacement is one of the most common joint replacement procedure worldwide, followed by hip replacement surgery. Knee replacement is a surgical procedure in which the damaged or disease knee joint is replaced with an artificial prosthetic implant. The surgery is usually recommended to treat pain and inability to move the knee, when other non-invasive procedures such as physical therapy fails to improve the condition. Knee arthritis is the most common reason for this surgery. The surgery aims to improve the quality of life of the patient by relieving the symptoms and pain.

Although, it is considered to be a long-term solution and the prosthetics do not last more than 15-20 years. The advancement in technology has increases the life span of an implant but it still does stop the implants from wearing out. The knee replacement implant parts are made of metal, medical-grade plastic or ceramic. These materials do not wear out easily, but they will not last forever.

While some people may have knee replacements that may last for decades, some may require a second surgery, called Revision knee replacement surgery, just a few years later.

Indian hospitals offer all kinds of knee replacement procedures with the latest surgical techniques to provide a faster healing. Not only is the quality of treatment is top-class, the cost of knee replacement surgery in India is highly affordable in comparison to several other countries.

There are several parameters that can influence the lifetime of a knee replacement in a patient. Some that impact the longevity of implants include:

Patient’s age:
  • For older patient, the knee replacement implant may not wear out in their lifetime. Younger patients may have a problem as they might need a repeat surgery even if the implant last more than a decade. Also, the younger patients tend to be more physically active, causing wearing out of the prosthetic knee joint. So, the patients who undergo knee replacement surgery in their 50s or younger usually have a more chance of needing a revision knee replacement in their lifetime.
Physical activities:
  • Though, a knee replacement patient can enjoy an active life post surgery, there are certain activities that are not recommended for patients with a knee implant. These activities may cause pain or difficulty in movement, they may place excessive strain on the knee replacement joint, causing the material to wear out more quickly.
Weight of the patient:
  • The more is the weight of an individual, the more stress is put on the knee joint replacement implant parts. It is very important to maintain a normal body weight after the surgery to make the replacement prosthetic last. One should be active and do proper exercises to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Avoid complications:
  • Certain medical conditions can lead to complications that may affect the knee joint replacement. Patients who have to undergo invasive medical procedures such as dental work may require taking antibiotic medications to prevent bacteria or other infectious agent from reaching the joint replacement implant. Also, patients with osteoporosis condition must ensure they get properly treated as problems like a fracture in the bone near the joint replacement can affect the implant function.

A loosened or failing knee replacement implant is diagnosed by the doctor using specific imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scan or MRI. This confirms the state of the joint and helps the doctor in determining the need of revision surgery. However, there are some signs that a person with knee replacement can monitor to check if the implant has worn out or loosened.

Symptoms of a failing or loose knee replacement implant are:
  • Mild to severe pain in the knee
  • Symptoms of Infection, including fever, chills, muscle ache, and others
  • Difficulty or restriction of movement
  • Swelling around the knee joint
  • Fluid build up around the knee
  • Thickening of the joint tissue
  • Instability of the joint
  • Feeling of warmth around the joint
  • Bone damage

It is important to contact your orthopaedic surgeon or healthcare team of your experience or notice these signs.

A revision total knee replacement usually takes longer to perform in comparison to primary joint replacement procedure. During the surgery, the worn out or damaged implant is first removed. In case there is a significant bone loss, then the surgeon may have to fill in the empty space with the bone grafts. The bone grafts used for this can be either autograft, taken from the patient’s own bone – from another site of your body or an allograft, bone tissue are obtained from another person (a bone bank). For some people, additional parts such as metal wedges, wires or screws may also be used to support and strengthen the bone. Finally, the surgeon inserts the specialized revision knee implants in place where original replacement implant was placed. This surgery is a complex procedure that should be performed by an experienced surgeon.