Easy replacements

Last Updated : 24 June 2016, 19:03 IST
Last Updated : 24 June 2016, 19:03 IST

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Until a few decades ago, a knee replacement was considered a difficult procedure with longer recovery time, and inadequate recovery outcomes.

In recent years, however, better techniques and advanced methods have radically improved outcomes, made the procedure more patient-friendly and longer lasting. Improved quality of artificial implants, different implants to meet the requirements of men and women and better surgical methods have contributed to improving the outcomes.

But should one go in for a joint replacement, in particular, the knee? With years of wear and tear, the surfaces where the bones meet can wear out. The reasons may include severe knee osteoarthritis and arthritic conditions. This makes movement extremely painful and effectively bars you from leading a normal life. In such cases, knee replacement can relieve pain and enable one to perform normal day-to-day functions with ease.

Hi-tech options

A major leap that has taken place in the field of joint replacements is computer-assisted or image-guided surgery. It is a technique where surgery is performed with the aid of computerised images.

Using computer navigation to align the joint, better alignment of the artificial joint is achieved and chances of human error are ruled out.

There are several benefits for those who undergo computer-assisted surgery. Some of them include:

Increased life of your replacement
Reduced risk of revision surgery
Greater stability and range of motion
Reduced blood loss during surgery
Less scarring and shorter post-operative physical rehabilitation

A computer-assisted surgery provides your surgeon with comprehensive data about your knee anatomy which may help determine proper replacement of your joint. Besides, it provides the surgeon with feedback and the ability to correct potential malalignment during the surgery.

Factors to consider

Consider going in for a knee replacement under the following circumstances:

Severe pain and stiffness that hinders your everyday activities.
Knee pain while resting, day or night, inability to bend as well as straighten your knee.
Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications.
Bone damage: X-rays and other imaging may show severe joint damage from osteoarthritis or other conditions.

Non-surgical treatment failure. In case medication, injections, devices like walkers and other treatments are not helping enough.

Deformity: If your knee is severely swollen or your leg is bowed However, keep in mind that a total knee replacement is only carried out after other treatments have been tried. It involves completely removing the damaged  joint  and replacing it with a new joint.
Once all these factors are considered, getting a knee replacement needn’t to be a decision to be feared any more.

(The author is joint replacement & arthroscopy surgeon, Indian Spinal
Injuries Centre, New Delhi)

Published 24 June 2016, 15:36 IST

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