Knee Replacement Melbourne – Risks and complications
As with any major surgery, there are potential risks involved. The decision to proceed with the surgery is made because the advantages of surgery outweigh the potential disadvantages.
It is important that you are informed of these risks before the surgery takes place. Complications can be medical (general) or local complications specific to the Knee.
Medical complications include those of the anesthetic and your general well being. Almost any medical condition can occur so this list is not complete.
Complications may include:
- Allergic reactions to medications
- Blood loss requiring transfusion with its low risk of disease transmission
- Heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, pneumonia, bladder infections Complications from nerve blocks such as infection or nerve damage Serious medical problems can lead to ongoing health concerns, prolonged hospitalization or rarely death
Infection – Infection can occur with any operation. In the knee this can be superficial or deep. Infection rates vary. If it occurs, it can be treated with antibiotics but may require further surgery. Very rarely your new knee may need to be removed to eradicate infection.
Blood Clots (Deep Venous Thrombosis) – Blood clots can form in the calf muscles and can travel to the lung (Pulmonary embolism). These can occasionally be serious and even life threatening. If you get calf pain or shortness of breath at any stage, you should notify your doctor immediately.
Stiffness in the Knee – Ideally your knee should bend beyond 100 degrees but on occasion, the knee may not bend as well as expected. Sometimes manipulations are required. This means going to the operating room where the knee is bent for you and under anesthetic.
Wear and tear – The plastic liner eventually wears out over time, usually 10 to 15 years and may need to be changed.
Wound Irritation or Breakdown – The operation will always cut some skin nerves, so you will inevitably have some numbness around the wound. This does not affect the function of your joint. You can also get some aching around the scar. Vitamin E cream and massaging can help reduce this.
Occasionally, you can get reactions to the sutures or a wound breakdown that may require antibiotics or rarely, further surgery.
Cosmetic Appearance – The knee may look different than it was because it is put into the correct alignment to allow proper function.
Leg length inequality – This is also due to the fact that a corrected knee is more straight and is unavoidable.
Dislocation – An extremely rare condition where the ends of the knee joint lose contact with each other or the plastic insert can lose contact with the tibia (shinbone) or the femur (thigh bone).
Knee cap (Patella) problems – The knee cap can dislocate. This means it moves out of place and it can break or loosen.
Ligament injuries – There are a number of ligaments surrounding the knee. These ligaments can be torn during surgery or break or stretch out any time afterwards. Surgery may be required to correct this problem.
Damage to Nerves and Blood Vessels – Rarely these can be damaged at the time of surgery. If recognized they are repaired, but a second operation may be required. Nerve damage can cause a loss of feeling or movement below the knee and can be permanent.
Fractures or breaks – Fractures in the bone can occur during surgery or afterwards if you fall. To repair these, you may require surgery.
Discuss your concerns thoroughly with your Orthopaedic Surgeon prior to surgery.