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Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine of San Antonio

Total Knee Joint Replacement

What Typically Happens During the Surgery

To begin the surgery, the surgeon will make an incision on the front of your knee, cutting through the tissue surrounding the muscles and bone. The kneecap, or patella, is rotated to the outside of the knee, to help your doctor see the area where the implant will be placed. The surgeon will use special cutting instruments to measure and make precise cuts of the bone. The end of the femur (thigh bone) is cut into a shape that matches the corresponding surface of the metal femoral component. The femoral component is then placed on the end of the femur.

The tibia (shin bone) is prepared with a flat cut on the top. The exposed end of the bone is sized to fit the metal and plastic tibial components. The metal tibial component is inserted into the bone. Then a plastic insert is snapped into the tibial component. The femoral component will slide on this plastic as you bend your knee.

If needed, the patella (kneecap) is also cut flat, and fitted with a plastic patellar component. Bone cement may be used to help secure the implants onto your bone. Your surgeon will conduct several tests during the surgery to ensure the correct sized components are used to help you regain good balance and motion in your knee. Your surgeon will then close the wound in layers with stitches and/or staples.


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