The online resource for navigated knee replacement surgery

FAQ's - Typical Patient Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding total knee replacement or computer navigated surgery.

How do I know if I need a knee replacement?

Your doctor may advise you to consider knee replacement surgery if you suffer from severe pain in the knee joint which affects everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs or getting out of a chair, and if the pain is so severe that it keeps you awake at night.

Surgery may be an option if you have previously tried other treatments, such as medication, which have not been successful in reducing pain and increasing mobility.

How common is knee replacement surgery?

Surgeons have performed total knee replacement surgery for over 40 years. It’s generally very successful and is becoming increasingly common with a more active, ageing population. Over 70,000 knee replacements are carried out every year in the UK and experts predict a 700 per cent increase by 2030. An increasing number of knee replacements are being performed using computer navigated surgery.

What can I do to prepare for the operation?

It is important you stay relaxed and don’t put yourself through unnecessary stress before your operation. Although knee replacement is a major surgical procedure, it is a commonplace operation and relatively straightforward.

To aid recovery, it is important you are as healthy as possible prior to the operation. You should aim to keep as active as you can to keep your leg muscles strong. Increasing upper body strength will also help with mobility and using walking aids post-operatively.

Your physiotherapist will advise you of which exercises to do. If you smoke, quitting will reduce the risk of complications.

What does the operation involve?

The operation involves removing the damaged or worn cartilage from the surface of the bone in the knee, or removal of the joint itself. To do this, the surgeon will operate from the front of you knee and the damaged cartilage or joint will then be replaced with a prosthetic implant, which is designed to work in the same way as a healthy knee.

You may have either a general or local anaesthetic throughout the procedure which will take about one and-a-half hours.

Computer navigated systems, such as OrthoPilot, can be used by surgeons during the operation to create the best possible implant positioning, using highly accurate computer guidance, resulting in a precisely aligned joint.

How long will I be in hospital following the operation?

Your physiotherapist will help you to start walking using crutches or a walking frame, usually the day after surgery and you should be able to go home after four to seven days.

Computer navigated surgery may enable faster rehabilitation times. Your stay can also depend on a number of factors, including age and any unexpected complications experienced during or after surgery.

When will I be able to return to my normal activities?

It’s important to look after your new knee. Shortly after your operation you will begin a programme of rehabilitation, tailored to suit your needs. A physiotherapist will help you with a range of exercises to help you regain balance and rebuild strength in your knee, which is crucial to your recovery.

Complete recovery time varies with each person and depends on factors including age, general health and fitness.

You may need crutches for a number of weeks after the surgery, until your consultant decides that the joint is stable and ready to cope without additional support.

Successful surgery will relieve joint pain and stiffness and most individuals can expect to resume normal daily activities, including driving, within 6 weeks of surgery.

Your new knee will continue to recover for as much as two years after surgery as the scar tissue heals and the muscles are restored by exercise. You need to look after yourself and pay attention to any problems such as knee stiffness, pain or infection.

Will an artificial knee cause problems with airport security scanners?

The sensitivity of metal detectors varies but it is likely that your new knee will trigger an alarm. You should inform the security staff that you have an artificial joint or carry a medical alert card.

Will I have to avoid certain activities?

Knee replacement patients are generally discouraged from taking part in high impact or high contact sports which can put excessive and persistent strain on your joint. Lower impact activities, such as swimming and cycling, are encouraged as these will keep you healthy and active but offer limited risk of damage to the joint.

Your doctor, surgeon or physiotherapist will be able to give you more details of what activities are suitable for you.

More than 90% of individuals who undergo total knee replacement experience a dramatic reduction of knee pain and a significant improvement in the ability to perform common daily activities.  

What are the risks involved in knee replacement surgery?

As with any type of surgery there are some risks involved, but these are relatively small. Complications can include blood clots and infection, although your surgeon will use various means including early mobilisation, foot pumps, medication and antibiotics to reduce the risk. You will be monitored after the operation to ensure that any problems are dealt with appropriately.

With normal use and activity, every knee replacement develops some wear in its plastic cushion. Excessive activity or weight may accelerate this normal wear and cause the knee replacement to loosen and become painful. 

How long will my knee last?

With normal use and activity, a knee replacement can last up to 15 years.

Excessive activity or obesity may accelerate this process and can cause the knee replacement to loosen and become painful.

But, by adopting the right lifestyle for you, there is no reason why your new knee should not provide you with a good quality of life.

What should I do next?

Please order a patient information pack and visit your GP to discuss in more detail your options for a total knee replacement using computer navigated surgery.


Want to find out more?

Visit our Useful Links page for access to other useful websites about knee replacement surgery and healthcare services.

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Request an Information Pack

Order your free Patient Information Pack which includes a DVD about computer navigated surgery, patient case studies and answers to commonly asked questions about total knee replacement.

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Useful Links

To find out more about total knee replacement or computer navigated surgery visit our links page for a list of useful websites.