Surgical Information – Procedures

Computer-assisted Total Knee Replacement

What is Computer-assisted Total Knee Replacement?

Total knee replacement is a surgical procedure to replace the weight-bearing surfaces of the knee joint.

During total knee replacement, the surgeon removes damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone) and replaces them with an implant called a prosthesis. A plastic spacer is attached to the prosthesis to create a cushioning effect much like the original cartilage in your knee.

Computer-assisted total knee replacement is performed with the aid of computer technology for greater precision and accuracy. Hardware and software serve as a GPS-like navigation system to assist the surgeon in properly aligning the prosthesis. Special tracking devices are attached to bones in the patient’s leg, generating 3-D images of the knee joint on a computer screen. The imagery helps the surgeon make decisions about optimal joint alignment for each patient and provides real-time feedback about the position, orientation, and size of the knee implant for modifications and adjustments.

Early results show that computer-assisted knee replacements are better aligned than their conventionally placed counterparts. A more precise fit can reduce wear and increase the longevity of the new joint.

In addition, computer-assisted surgery offers all the benefits of minimally invasive surgery, including smaller incisions, less tissue trauma, bleeding and post-operative pain, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery, and earlier return to work and activities.

Anatomy

The knee is the largest joint in the body and one of the most complex. It is made up of the femur, tibia and patella (kneecap). Damage can result from injury, deformity or arthritis, when the articular cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones gradually erodes. Without this cushioning effect, the bones of the knee joint rub together. The knee can't move easily and becomes stiff, swollen and painful.

When is Surgery Recommended?

If you have knee pain that limits your everyday activities and all non-surgical methods of treatment have failed – including weight loss, anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, lubricating injections and physical therapy – then you should consider total knee replacement surgery.

It is important that each patient is carefully screened by an orthopaedic surgeon to determine the most appropriate type of total knee replacement procedure.

What is the Recovery Time?

Because computer-assisted total knee replacement allows more reproducible alignments, smaller incisions and less blood loss, it can shorten the hospital stay and hasten recovery time. Most patients are up and walking immediately following surgery and regain range of motion, strength and flexibility after several weeks of physical therapy. Patients usually leave the hospital after one or two days, and the vast majority go directly home without having to use a rehabilitation center. As with all surgical procedures, specific recovery time varies by patient and demand.