A knee prosthesis (artificial knee) is placed in the event of serious damage to the knee joint. The cause of this damage is usually arthritis or a rheumatic disorder. This causes pain and poor functioning. The damage can be seen on an X-ray of the knee and is confirmed by functional tests.
Your knee is an articulated joint consisting of 3 parts: the lower thighbone, the upper shinbone, and the kneecap. The ends of the thighbone and shinbone are covered with a layer of cartilage. This is elastic and absorbs impacts and shocks, allowing the knee to move smoothly. Between the two bones are the inner and outer meniscus, which also absorb shock and reduce friction in the knee. The knee capsule surrounds the entire joint produces synovial fluid that lubricates the cartilage. This fluid also reduces friction in the knee. In the centre of the knee joint lie the cruciate ligaments. The anterior cruciate ligament prevents the lower leg from sliding too far forward when walking or twisting. Finally, the kneecap is located at the front of the knee joint.
This wear and tear of cartilage is a normal aging process that occurs in everyone.
However, in some people, the wear and tear progress faster. Causes can be due to an abnormal load, an accident, or malformation of the knee joint. There is certainly also an important hereditary factor. Wear and tear is not always attributable to a specific cause. When the pain can no longer be relieved by other means, a knee replacement will be suggested.
There are two types: total knee replacement and half knee replacement. The most common is the total knee replacement, which replaces the whole cartilage of the femur and tibia.
When only the inner or outer side of the knee needs to be replaced, a half knee replacement (also called hemi-knee replacement) is used. Nowadays, there is also a female model, which is better adapted to the average bone size of women.
Knee surgery is no walk in the park and recovery requires a lot of willpower and effort, but with proper preparation you can save yourself unnecessary stress and disappointment.
During the operation you will receive antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. The procedure takes approximately 1.5 hours. During knee surgery the knee is first opened at the front by a vertical incision of approximately twenty centimetres. The surgeon removes the affected joint surfaces. With special instruments, the bone is adapted to the shape of the prosthesis, so that a correct anchoring is possible. A plastic disc between the metal parts of the prosthesis allows the knee to hinge smoothly.
Usually, a kneecap prosthesis is not placed, as the kneecap’s own impingement ensures that hardly any kneecap complaints remain. Experience in the United States has shown that artificial kneecaps have a risk of complications in the short and long term. Therefore, a kneecap prosthesis is only placed on indication. These indications are: (severe) rheumatism or severe kneecap wear.