8600 Old Georgetown Road | Bethesda, MD 20814

FAQ: Knee Replacement

What is knee replacement?
It is a metal and plastic covering for raw, arthritic bone ends. It replaces cartilage that has worn away over the years. Knee replacement can eliminate pain and allow you to move easily with less discomfort. For those that have become bow-legged or knock-kneed over the years, it can also straighten your legs to a more natural position.

Who should have a knee replacement?
When arthritis knee pain severely limits your ability to walk, work, or perform even simple activities, knee replacement should be considered.

Is there an alternative to knee replacement?
Knee replacement is only recommended after careful diagnosis of your joint problem. Arthroscopic or microscopic surgery is not helpful once arthritis is advanced. Also, it is not likely that anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone injections will give you the same long-term relief that knee replacement will.

Should my knee replacement be cemented?
Knee replacements are successfully performed with all cemented components as well as with a combination of uncemented and cemented components. Your surgeon will discuss which technique is best for you.

How long is the hospital stay?
The average hospital stay for a knee replacement patient is around 3-4 days.  Nearly 70% of our patients are able to go home on the 3rd postoperative day with continued therapy.

In some cases, fixing one knee reduces the stress on the other knee, thus giving another two or three years if the arthritis is not too advanced. Each individual case is different.

How long is recuperation?
Recovery varies with each person. You may use a walker for approximately 4 weeks after the operation. You can drive a car in 2-4 weeks. Most people gradually increase their activities and may play golf or doubles tennis in 12 weeks. More active sports, such as singles tennis and jogging are not recommended.

After discharge, there is usually no need for a nursing home. Some patients may require a short stay at a rehab center for a few days after they leave the hospital. This will depend on how you progress in the hospital, and keep in mind that healing and recovery times vary with each person.

What is the success rate?
Knee replacement surgery is recognized as a miracle of modern surgery. At Suburban Hospital, our success rate is about 96 percent. Most orthopedic experts consider replacement to be the best method of handling arthritis in the knee. Knee replacements have literally put hundreds of thousands of Americans back on their feet and added life to their years.

Are there complications?
As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications after knee replacement surgery. However, they are quite rare … driving on an interstate highway is probably more dangerous. To reduce the risk of infection, we take special precautionary measures in the operating room, and use powerful antibiotics. Our personnel are limited to fully-trained and experienced nurses and technicians.

What about pain?
Thanks to advances in medication technology, we are able to keep you very comfortable after surgery. After surgery, any temporary discomfort does not compare to the pain of arthritis endured by most people in months and years before surgery.

And because knee replacement patients are not “sick,” you will not be treated as such. You will wear your own casual clothing after surgery, not hospital gowns. You’ll also join other joint replacement patients for therapy in our on-site gym.