Total Knee Replacement Summary

Total knee replacement or TKR is a procedure that replaces a severely damaged knee joint with an artificial knee joint. During the procedure the knee will be resurfaced and cartilage and bone will be replaced with metal and plastic. This procedure is performed by an orthopedic surgeon under general anesthesia or epidural anesthesia.

The knee joint is like a hinge that helps facilitate motion in the leg. Knees become damaged for a number of reasons; including arthritis and injury. Total knee replacement is in order when a patient’s knee has been damaged beyond repair. This damage may cause continuous pain, stiffness and it usually impairs normal function.

Length of the procedure: 1 to 3 hours

Hospital Stay: If you seek a total knee replacement through a medical tourism program you will stay 7 to 10 days depending on how well you heal after the procedure.

Your surgeon will expect that you meet certain criteria before they release you:

  • Bend your knee at a 90 degree angle
  • Get out of your bed on your own
  • Extend your knee straight out
  • Walk using crutches or a walker
  • Complete on rep of your prescribed home exercises

Recovery before traveling home: Patients should expect to fly home within 10 days of their procedure.

Procedure Details

Before surgery can begin either general anesthesia or epidural anesthesia must be administered. Once the anesthesia has taken effect the knee will be prepped for surgery. It will be scrubbed with an antiseptic liquid.

During the procedure the knee is flexed at a 90 degree angle using a special device that holds the lower leg and foot in place. The surgeon will make an incision. The damaged bone and cartilage will be removed first.

Bone will be removed from other areas to ensure proper fit of the artificial knee. The front and back of the femur will be removed. The top surface of the tibia will be removed along with the back of the knee cap.

To complete the procedure the surgeon will repair the attached muscles and ligaments. They will close the wound with sutures and wrap the knee in a sterile bandage. A tube may be placed to the wound to drain properly.

Artificial Knee Components

The artificial knee is made of metal and plastic. Metal meets the end of the tibia and femur and a plastic spacer acts as buffer between them. The implant for the knee cap is made of plastic.

The artificial knee can come in a number of designs. Many artificial knees are designed with pegs that require small holes be drilled into the bone surface for placement. Other implant styles would include implants that are secured with central stems or screws.

After the Procedure

Many patients feel dizzy, sick or tired immediately following their procedure. This is perfectly normal and is a result of the anesthesia. Hospital staff will closely monitor the patient for complications during this time.


The total knee replacement is life altering for many patients. Once healed most patients are able to participate in activities they were unable to prior to their procedure. Knee replacement has a life span of 10 to 15 years on average.

Risks and Complications

Knee replacement surgery is rather common. However, that does not mean it is risk free. It is important to discuss the risks of total knee replacement before you consent to surgery. The most common risks would include:

  • Blood Clots
  • Blood Loss
  • Infection
  • Stiffness
  • Hip Dislocation
Contact your physician if:
  • You develop any swelling
  • Your pain increases
  • If you develop drainage from the incision site
  • If you develop redness around the incision
  • If you develop a fever