What is a Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery involves the removal of the diseased parts of the knee and replacing them with new, artificial components. It can be a partial or total knee replacement, depending on the extent of damage. In doing so, it effectively restores mobility and comfort to the patient, who would have otherwise been suffering from significant pain, stiffness and limited movement in their knee.

Anatomy of the Knee

The knee is the biggest joint in our bodies, consisting of three main parts: the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and the patella (the kneecap). Along with supporting cartilages, ligaments, tendons and ligaments, the knee plays a crucial role in supporting our body weight and facilitating a wide range of motions (walking, running, jumping, climbing, sitting).

What are the Types of Knee Replacement?

Total Knee Replacement

Also known as a total knee arthroplasty, this procedure involves the removal of the damaged or diseased part of the knee joint, which is then replaced with artificial implants. This surgery is performed when the knee has been severely damaged and mobility has been greatly affected.

Unicompartmental (Partial) Knee Replacement

The knee has three compartments: the lateral (outer), the medial (inner), and the patellofemoral (kneecap). If the damage affects only one side of the knee, a partial knee replacement may be made. Here, healthy parts of the knee are preserved and only the affected parts are replaced.

Kneecap Replacement

In cases where the damage only affects the kneecap, the surgeon may perform a kneecap replacement. Patellofemoral arthroplasty is a type of partial knee replacement whereby the kneecap compartment of the knee is replaced with artificial implants.

Revision Knee Replacement

This type of knee replacement is performed when the artificial knee implants from a previous knee replacement need repair. This is usually done when there has been a complication from a previous knee replacement, or the implant has since experienced wear and tear, or has failed for various reasons.

Who Should Undergo Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee surgery is usually recommended for patients whose mobility has become significantly affected due to the amount of damage in their knees, which may be caused by arthritis or trauma. Knee replacement surgery is also recommended if conservative treatments have proven ineffective.

What Happens Before a Knee Replacement Surgery?

An orthopaedic surgeon will first run a complete medical evaluation to assess the patient’s general health to ensure he or she is eligible to safely undergo the surgery, and if the benefits outweigh the risks of doing so.

This medical evaluation may include a medical history, blood tests, and other diagnostic tests. It is also vital to discuss any existing medications in order to manage the risk of complications. For instance, some patients may be advised to temporarily discontinue their medications before surgery. The patient is also required to fast prior to the surgery.

What Happens During a Knee Replacement Surgery?

Orthopaedic surgeons may use different techniques depending on the patient’s condition. While most patients are required to stay in the hospital after surgery, some can be performed on an outpatient basis. A knee replacement normally takes between 2 to 3 hours to complete.

During the procedure, the patient will be put under general anaesthesia, ensuring that they do not feel nor remember anything from the procedure. Then, the surgeon will make an incision in the knee in order to remove the damaged parts and replace them with artificial components.

What to Expect After the Surgery?


After the surgery, the patient’s vital signs will be monitored until the anaesthesia wears off. In most cases, the patient will be required to stay in the hospital for a few days. Physiotherapy will usually start the next day, and a physiotherapist will assist the patient in performing gentle and targeted exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve circulation and range of motion. The patient will then be evaluated to see if they are fit for discharge.

Recovery at Home

Before sending the patient home, the orthopaedic surgeon will give specific instructions on proper wound care, medications, physiotherapy and follow-up visits. It is vital to follow the doctor’s instructions to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery.

What are the Possible Risks and Complications?

Knee replacement is an established surgery with some of the highest success rates. However, as with all surgical procedures, it comes with risks, such as:

  • Infection - Infection may arise from bacteria that enter the bloodstream
  • Blood Clots - There may be a risk of blood clots due to decreased mobility and surgical trauma
  • Nerve Damage - In rare cases, a nerve injury may occur, which results in pain and weakness
  • Continued Pain - Sometimes, a patient may still experience pain and stiffness after knee arthroplasty

In the hands of an experienced knee replacement surgeon, risks are kept to a minimum and the patient is always well-managed in a proper medical setting.

FAQs on Knee Surgery

  • What is the most common type of knee surgery?

    Knee replacement, ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair are some of the most common knee surgery in Singapore. Many cases of knee surgery can be done via arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure that requires a few small incisions around the joint, resulting in a faster recovery and reduced scarring.

  • How long will it take to recover from knee surgery?

    The usual recovery time from a knee surgery procedure in Singapore is around 12 weeks to 3 months, depending on the type of surgery and the patient’s compliance with proper post-surgical care and rehabilitation.

  • Is knee surgery very painful?

    As anaesthesia is used during a Singapore knee surgery procedure, patients will not be in any pain. After the surgery, pain medications and rehabilitation care will be given to facilitate healing and offer pain relief.

  • Can you walk after a knee surgery?

    For most patients, it is possible to start walking slowly within hours following a Singapore knee replacement procedure, but with assistance from others or walking aids. Most patients will also be able to start walking without crutches from around three weeks, depending on the type of surgery and adherence to proper rehabilitation.

  • At what age is a knee replacement procedure done?

    Most knee replacement procedures in Singapore are done on those who are between the ages of 60 to 80.

  • What are the things to avoid after undergoing a knee surgery procedure?

    Knee pain treatment centres in Singapore recommend their patient to refrain from strenuous activities such as running and heavy lifting until medically cleared by their knee surgeon. They should also avoid sitting on chairs that are too low, or sitting still for a prolonged period (movement in moderation is key to recovery).

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