What Is Patella Replacement?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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Patella replacement is a surgical procedure in which a damaged knee joint, as well as the kneecap itself, is removed and replaced with an artificial knee. This form of surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia, although other types of anesthesia may sometimes be used. The usual hospital stay for patella replacement surgery is between three and five days, during which time the medical staff will provide detailed instructions on how to take care of the surgical site after returning home. Any questions or concerns about the patella replacement procedure or recovery issues should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

General anesthesia is the most commonly used sedation method for patella replacement surgery. This is a complete sedation, meaning that the patient is not awake for any portion of the procedure. In some cases, epidural anesthesia may be used instead, allowing the patient to be awake for the procedure but completely numb below the waist. There are potential complications associated with each type of anesthesia, and the medical staff will help the patient determine the most appropriate anesthesia method for each individual situation.


After the patient has been sedated, an incision is made into the front of the knee. The damaged portion of the patella, or knee joint, is then carefully separated from the bones of the leg and removed from the body. The surfaces of the bones are then specially shaped so that they will be able to hold the artificial joint. The joint and kneecap are then replaced with artificial materials that have been designed to work in as close a manner as possible to the natural knee. The incision is then closed, the patient is awakened from anesthesia, and the patient is moved into the recovery room for close monitoring before being transferred to a regular room.

The rehabilitation process often begins the same day as the patella replacement surgery. The patient is encouraged to try to walk as soon as possible, and the medical staff will help with this until the patient is able to walk without assistance. Many people report a significant improvement in pain levels and mobility almost immediately following surgery. It may take between six and eight weeks for the patient to be able to walk without any type of assistance, and it is important to follow any movement restrictions issued by the doctor in order to prevent damage to the delicate tissues of the knee.


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