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What is Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery—also known as knee arthroplasty—is a surgical procedure that involves removing a damaged knee joint and replacing it with an artificial joint (prosthesis). Joint damage can be caused by injury or arthritis. The goal of knee replacement is to alleviate pain and restore mobility.

When Surgery is Recommended

Miami Valley Hospital (MVH) recommends knee replacement surgery when joint damage interferes with your quality of life. If pain and limited mobility are keeping you from performing your favorite activities or disrupting your sleep, it may be time to consider knee replacement surgery.

Before Surgery

At Miami Valley Hospital, we don’t just treat your condition—we treat you.

During your initial evaluation, we:

  • Learn about your current condition and your goals for knee replacement
  • Perform x-rays
  • Review the benefits and risks of surgery
  • Discuss rehabilitation exercises to do at home

Before surgery, you attend the MVH Total Joint Class taught by our experienced clinical nurse and physical therapists. During the class, you learn about all aspects of knee replacement surgery, and what to expect during recovery from your procedure.

A hospitalist (an inpatient physician who oversees your care) meets with you to collect your detailed medical history and review your lab and test results. You meet separately with an anesthesiologist to go over test results and address your questions or concerns. A representative from Home Health may also visit you before your procedure.

Pain Management

Miami Valley Hospital takes a comprehensive approach to pain management both during and after surgery.

Pain management options include:

  • Spinal anesthesia – reduces pain and blood loss
  • Nerve blocks (fascia iliaca) – provides pain control around the knee after surgery
  • Multi-dry modal control – controls pain; may include the use of Tylenol, narcotics, Ultram and anti-inflammatory medications such as Toradol
  • Rest, ice and elevation – helps control pain and swelling after surgery; your surgeon might also recommend an LRU pillow to comfortably elevate your knee
  • Compression – prevents the joint from stiffening during recovery; promotes flexibility in the new joint

During Surgery

Your surgeon makes a midline incision (cut) and places a metal cap on both bones, with a plastic piece in between each cap. This is called a mobile-bearing knee. It restores functionality and allows the joint to rotate just like your natural knee. The entire knee replacement procedure takes about one hour.

After Surgery

After surgery, you are on oral medications for pain management. You remain in the hospital for two days following your knee replacement surgery. Nurses help you perform exercises every two hours, and a trained physical therapist teaches you a daily therapy routine.

Miami Valley Hospital has helped over 3,000 patients get back to living following knee replacement surgery:

  • 2,658 patients required an inpatient stay and required physical therapy surgery
  • 866 patients required physical therapy following outpatient surgery
  • 68 patients received treatment in the inpatient Rehabilitation Unit following knee replacement

Learn how knee replacement surgery helped return Jerry Frechette back to his love of the outdoors.


Here’s what you can expect during a typical recovery:

  • You start off using a walker.
  • During the first two weeks, a physical therapist makes visits to your home.
  • Your staples are removed at your surgeon’s office.
  • You begin outpatient therapy one to three times a week. For your convenience, we offer physical therapy services at all of our locations.

Total recovery time often takes four to six weeks.

Risks and Complications

Every surgery has the risk for complications. Our specialists at MVH take every precaution to reduce these risks.

Possible complications associated with knee replacement surgery include:

  • Infection – To prevent infection, we give you antibiotics before, during and after surgery. We also treat the skin with antiseptic and screen you for infection risks. Only about 1 percent of patients experience an infection with surgery.
  • Swelling or edema (a build-up of fluid beneath the skin) – To prevent excessive swelling or fluid build-up, our trained therapists meet with you immediately after surgery and begin your therapy routine the same day.
  • Blood loss – We use a medication (tranexamic acid) to help blood clot and prevent blood loss during surgery. Tranexamic acid has a short half-life in the body, which prevents the risk of long-term issues. Less than 5 percent of our patients require a blood transfusion during or after surgery.

For more information on Risks and Complications consult your physician.