The implantation of artificial knee joints is a routine intervention and takes around one hour.
The duration of your stay depends for the most part on your general state of health. Prepare yourself for one to two weeks, although your doctor will be able to inform you more precisely.
Discharge from the hospital is normally followed by a stay at a rehabilitation centre. After that, your physical strain will be restricted for approximately another four to six weeks. You should use this time for further remedial gymnastics. If you have a job, the resumption of your professional activities will depend on your daily physical stress. You will be fit for work sooner if your job entails sitting for long periods and walking only short distances; heavy work will take longer to resume.
As a rule, you can leave your bed on the first or second day following the operation. On the third day, you will learn to walk with crutches or with other aids. This will help avoid incorrect loading of the operated knee joint as well as making you feel more secure. The majority of patients are able to walk without crutches six to eight weeks after the operation.
The physical strain, the quality of your bones, your lifestyle and especially your weight have an influence on the longevity of the artificial joint. National joint registries and studies have shown that ten years after implantation of a total knee prosthesis, no revision (replacement of the artificial joint or individual components) was necessary in over 90 % of patients. In patients with unilateral so-called unicondylar knee prostheses, this rate was below 90 %.
Inform your doctor of your allergies to specific metals. If available, provide the doctor with your allergy passport. The materials we use for the implants and the coatings very rarely cause an allergic reaction. Special solutions are required in only a few cases.
You should observe your follow-up dates without fail, even if you are not in pain and feel well. They allow your specialist to keep track of your rehabilitation and to recognise complications early on. In the first year after the operation, several follow-up examinations will take place. Later, these examinations will be required only once a year, then every two or three years. Your doctor will determine the ideal interval.
Although it is ultimately up to the patient whether and when to have a prosthesis implanted, the decision should be taken in consultation with a specialist. The essential factors that influence such a decision are as follows: a) In your medical checkups and X-ray pictures, your specialist has found advanced arthrosis of the knee. b) Pain interferes so much with your quality of life that you are no longer able to cope with the daily routine without daily and permanent discomfort. Your walking distance and mobility are clearly reduced. c) Alternative treatment methods (e. g. physiotherapy) will no longer be successful. d) You depend on a constant intake of drugs. These are no longer sufficient despite increased dosage. If these factors apply to you, an operation should be considered regardless of your age. If the above circumstances do not apply to you, it is advisable to postpone an operation and to look for further non-operative treatment methods.
In Europe, an average of 550,000 artificial hip joints and 230,000 knee joints are implanted per year. Today, the operation is a routine intervention. However, risks of such things as haematomas, drug allergies, thromboses, embolisms or infections cannot be fully excluded. Preventive measures, such as the administration of drugs and physiotherapy, limit these risks to a large extent. Your doctor will provide you with exhaustive information on the subject.
Nowadays, blood conserves are used only if the patient loses a large amount of blood during the operation. The risk of an infectious disease transmission in foreign blood transfusions is extremely slight due to the excellent system of checks. If you are still sceptical, you can donate your own blood. This involves giving blood some time before the operation, and having it preserved.
Currently, the majority of clinics can collect wound blood from the drains, clean it in a special machine and re-administer it to patients. This makes the donation of one’s own blood unnecessary. Should you still wish to do so, your attending physician will clarify whether you are suited for such a procedure. Special diseases, such as those of the heart or blood-producing organs, may restrict one‘s ability to donate blood. You should donate your blood early on to give your body the time to rebuild sufficient new red blood cells. Your doctor will inform you about the best time and procedure, and will take the necessary steps.
You should only get behind the wheel when you feel fit to drive. You are the one responsible for this! We recommend that you consult with your attending specialist first. Most patients are fit to drive after three to five months, but this can vary widely from patient to patient. Never drive under the influence of strong pain relievers!
You should not make any strong knee-bends in the first six to twelve weeks after the operation, in order to prevent an irritation of the joint or a feeling of strain. Other than that there is nothing else that argues against sexual intercourse. Your doctor will be happy to answer all of your questions.