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Total knee replacement

Replacement of the femoral and tibial surfaces of the kee joint with metal and plastic, and generally also part of the patella.

Also called total knee arthroplasty.

In a total knee arthroplasty or total knee replacement, the bottom end of the arthritic thighbone (femur) is removed using a special jig to ensure the correct placement of the bony cuts. The damaged bit is thrown away and replaced with a metal joint (usually titanium), which looks very similar in structure. The top end of the shinbone (tibia) is also cut off and thrown away, but this part is replaced with plastic. The kneecap (patella) may also have its undersurface replaced ('resurfacing'). Issues relate to the use of cement, the design (eg 'cruciate ligament sparing'), the metal and plastic materials (because of comparative wear of different materials), the problems of age (how young can one do the op? How old?) and complications (infection is the big one).

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