Has your quality of life suffered because of knee pain?
Maybe you've been avoiding activities you used to love. Or you can't sleep because of osteoarthritis pain. Or perhaps you've had a previous knee replacement but are still having problems.
If nonsurgical treatments haven't helped, you may be ready for knee replacement surgery.
Knee replacement by University of Iowa Health Care experts can relieve your pain, improve your mobility, and boost your quality of life.
When you choose University of Iowa Health Care experts to perform your knee replacement, you're choosing a team with excellent outcomes. Our orthopedic surgeons help hundreds of patients each year get back to the lives they love through joint replacement or revision surgery.
The UI Health Care approach to knee replacement
A knee replacement procedure replaces the damaged or diseased parts of your knee joint with artificial implants.
A care plan that centers on you
Whether you need your first knee replacement or are looking for guidance for a replacement that failed, our team works with you on a customized plan.
Your care team will thoroughly assess your knee joint and other factors. They'll plan your procedure to use the smallest possible incisions and the best implant materials for your body and activity level.
We’ll also help you prepare before your procedure to help make your recovery as smooth as possible with a custom education plan. This includes how to stay active and healthy before surgery, how to prepare your home, and important tips throughout the journey.
After your surgery, our physical therapists who specialize in joint replacement will help you get back to daily activities quickly and our care team will be with you every step of the way to answer any questions you may have.
The most advanced procedures
Physicians across Iowa send their most complex knee replacement cases to UI Health Care experts. All of our knee replacement surgeons are fellowship-trained, meaning that they've undergone extensive specialized training.
They’re also active in academic research studies of knee replacement surgery outcomes and new knee replacement devices. They’re always up to date on the latest techniques for successful knee replacement.
For example, our surgeons may use state-of-the-art robotic systems to analyze your knee and provide precise guidance during your surgery. The technology helps them place your implants with complete accuracy for the best outcome.
Types of knee replacement
The knee is divided into three major compartments:
- Medial compartment (the inside part of the knee)
- Lateral compartment (the outside part of the knee)
- Patellofemoral compartment (the front of the knee between the kneecap and thighbone)
When one or more components of the knee have advanced arthritis, a knee replacement may be right for you. Our care team helps to find the right surgery to match your unique needs. Your options may include the following:
Advanced osteoarthritis that is limited to a single compartment may be treated with a unicompartmental knee replacement. During this procedure, the damaged compartment is replaced with metal and plastic. The healthy cartilage and bone, as well as all of the ligaments, are preserved.
Advanced arthritis that impacts more than one compartment may be treated with a total knee replacement. During this procedure, there are four basic steps:
- Prepare the bone. The damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur and tibia are removed along with a small amount of underlying bone.
- Position the metal implants. The removed cartilage and bone is replaced with metal components that recreate the surface of the joint. These metal parts may be cemented or "press-fit" into the bone.
- Resurface the patella. The undersurface of the patella (kneecap) is cut and resurfaced with a plastic button. Some surgeons do not always resurface the patella, depending upon the case.
- Insert a spacer. A medical-grade plastic spacer is inserted between the metal components to create a smooth gliding surface.
With traditional hip and knee replacement procedures, the surgeon uses traditional cutting jigs (templates, or guides) and instruments to prepare the bone surfaces and align the joint. Robotic-assisted joint replacements instead combines three-dimensional planning before surgery with real-time computer navigation during surgery. Using robotic tools that have sensory feedback, the surgeon can remove damaged bone and cartilage and implant artificial joints with greater precision, as well as help to preserve healthy tissue.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss different surgical options with you and determine which approach will give you the best outcome.
Help for previous knee replacements causing pain
Total knee replacement is one of the most successful procedures in medicine today. A knee replacement can last for 15 to 20 years or more. Sometimes, however, a knee replacement can fail because of a variety of reasons.
If you've had a knee replacement and begin to experience pain, swelling, or instability, it may be an indication that your replacement has failed.
The UI Health Care team specializes in revision surgery to treat a failed knee replacement.
The type of revision procedure you have depends on what caused your knee replacement to fail. Our surgeons are experts in identifying the best solution for you to get you back on the road to recovery.
What to expect
More than 85% of our joint replacement patients go home the same day or next day.
Our multidisciplinary team approach means faster recovery and less pain for patients as well as expedited treatment and function following joint replacement surgery. Because of this approach, you may be able to go home on the day of surgery, offering many benefits such as having surgery earlier in the day and being able to sleep in your own bed at night. Our care team will discuss if same day discharge is an option for you.
At your first pre-surgery appointment for an initial knee replacement, you'll meet the nurse clinicians who will guide you through preparation, surgery, and recovery. They'll be your contact person during the entire process which includes a comprehensive educational program for you and your “coach.” Your coach can be a spouse, adult child, or friend who will help provide support to you during your recovery.
The stronger and healthier you are before your surgery, the more quickly you'll recover. Your team will customize a care plan that will help you get ready for your procedure and will continue to guide you throughout the entire experience.
Who can benefit from knee replacement?
Each person is different, but your orthopedic care team will likely talk with you about a total knee replacement if:
- X-rays show advanced arthritis or significant deformity of your knee
- You have severe stiffness and swelling of your knee
- You have knee pain every day, even at rest
- You have significant instability, and your knee gives out/gives way
- You have made significant lifestyle changes and activity limits related to your knee
- You have a failed previous knee replacement
If you're not eligible for knee replacement
If a knee replacement isn't possible, UI Health Care experts will make a plan for relieving your pain using other methods.
They might recommend:
Our Care Team
Our coffee talks are designed for our first-time joint replacement patients and their coaches. Led by our experienced joint replacement nurse clinicians, this online discussion offers a casual way to get answers to questions as you prepare for your upcoming surgery from the comfort of your own home.
How to Get Ready for the Coffee Talk
- Our joint replacement nurse clinicians offer these drop-in educational sessions twice/week. We will send you instruction and a private link to join a discussions at your convenience.
- Review the Hip Replacement or Knee Replacement book prior to the discussion.
- Write down any general questions you want to ask.
- Tip: Answers to common questions can be found in our frequently asked questions document. Our nurse clinicians can expand on these or any additional general questions that may be top of mind.
- Note: Your privacy is important to us. As this is a group discussion, questions related to your specific health condition, medications, or personal questions about your home or support system will not be covered.
- Download the Zoom app on your device by going to https://zoom.us/ on your desktop or from your app store.
- You can join the meeting by calling in from your phone as well. Please follow directions provided by the nurse clinician team via myChart on how to call into the meeting
- You can choose any device to join the class: mobile phone, iPad, desktop, laptop, etc.
How to join the Coffee Talk
- Click on the link in the myChart message sent to you by our nurse clinicians a few minutes before the discussion starts
- Sign into the meeting with your first or last name only to protect your confidentiality.
- Make sure you are on mute after logging into the class and wait for the instructor.
- Please remain muted until the instructor asks for questions. Questions can be entered into the chat or can be voiced out loud.
- Silence your phone, alarms, or any other distractions.