Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee joint replacement surgery is performed when knee damage or pain is so severe that nonsurgical treatments could not provide relief. It involves replacing the knee joint with an artificial joint made of metal or plastic.

Reasons for Having the Procedure

Knee replacement surgery is performed:

  • To relieve pain that may be caused by arthritis or some other condition
  • When the pain prevents you from performing normal activities such as walking, taking care of yourself, or even sleeping
  • When other treatments have not relieved the pain sufficiently

Schedule an Appointment

Orthopedic surgeons at South Texas Health System Clinics can evaluate your condition and perform knee replacement surgery.

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Description of the Procedure

You will be under general or regional anesthesia during the procedure, which normally takes around two hours. During the procedure, the surgeon will remove damaged bone and cartilage and replace it with man-made pieces called a prosthetic. The surgeon will perform the following steps during the procedure:

  • Make a three to four-inch incision over your knee to gain access to the knee joint.
  • Cut the ends of your thigh bone (upper leg) and shin bone (lower leg) to fit the replacement part.
  • Cut the underside of your kneecap (patella) to prepare it for the new pieces that will be attached there.
  • Fasten the two parts of the prosthesis to your bones. One part will be attached to the end of your thigh bone and the other part will be attached to your shin bone. The pieces can be attached using bone cement or screws.
  • Attach the underside of your kneecap. A special bone cement is used to attach this part.
  • Repair your muscles and tendons around the new joint and close the surgical cut.


You will be in the hospital for one or two days after the procedure. Moving and walking will begin as soon as the day after surgery. Prior to going home, you may need to spend some time in a rehabilitation center learning how to safely perform daily activities.

The outlook for recovery after knee replacement surgery is excellent. Most people fully recover and do not need assistance walking. And the pain is gone! Most patients are able to resume normal activities within six weeks, although it may take four to 12 months to realize the full benefits of the surgery.

Artificial knee joints normally last 10 to 15 years before they need to be replaced. Be sure not to have a replacement too early, otherwise you will most likely need a second replacement surgery.