Those suffering from knee pain caused by osteoarthritis may eventually need surgery to correct the problem. Procedures for knee osteoarthritis include arthroscopic surgery, partial knee replacement, and total knee arthroplasty (replacement). Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgery where small cuts are made in the knee and a small camera is inserted to see and diagnose the extent of the damage. The doctor can then remove, repair, and smooth damaged tissue.
Partial knee replacements are often used for those with less damage to their knee, while total knee replacements are used for those with major osteoarthritic damage. While surgeries can help alleviate pain and increase mobility, it is important to understand and acknowledge there can be risks and serious complications, including death.
English investigators prompted a study to ascertain the risk of complications associated with knee replacement surgery. During that 9 year period, 467,779 knee replacements were performed with 1183 deaths occurring within 45 days of the surgery. The incidence of death decreased to 37% in 2003 and to 20% in 2011. Findings show that mortality rates after unicompartmental knee replacement (partial knee replacement) was lower than with a total knee replacement. Causes of death were not related directly to surgery, as the patients suffered from comorbidities such as myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accident, liver disease, or renal disease. The findings concluded that although early deaths have fallen drastically since 2003, more effort should be taken to reduce mortality in older patients with comorbidities.
A study was also done to compare adverse outcomes for those having total knee replacements (TKR) versus unicompartmental knee replacements (UKR) in England. The results showed that the failure rate for unicompartment (partial) replacement had a higher rate at 8years in comparison to total knee replacement. However the risk of mortality was higher with total knee arthroplasty.
If you have been told that you have knee arthritis and are looking for treatment measures, it is in your best interest to seek treatment from a surgeon who has the skill set to tailor treatment to your specific condition instead of a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Our nationally recognized sports medicine surgeons specialize in an individualized approach to alleviate your knee pain, whether by medication, injections, or surgery.