When you think about getting a knee replacement, it might seem pretty cut and dry. You enter a leading academic medical center facility and come out with a new joint, right? While you’re correct about the end result, the path is a little more complex and varies from patient to patient. Getting a new knee through replacement surgery can be exciting — but it also comes with some serious questions. My office and I will work with you to make sure that you receive the approach that is best for your situation and keeps you comfortable. Below are a few things we’ll be talking about as we sit down for your evaluation and consultation.
Now or wait?
The thought of any person living with unnecessary knee pain is unacceptable by today standards. However, before you go under the knife, it’s important to really evaluate if now is the right time for a procedure. Currently, replacements are expected to last more than 20 years. Yet, you may require additional procedures down the line. As with most elective surgeries, a knee replacement is a big decision. It’s important that we figure out exactly what it is that is causing your pain and see if any alternative solutions would be a better choice. For example, if you are overweight, your knees are bearing extra pounds and a replacement might not solve the issue at hand like weight loss would. Recovery will also take some time and rehabilitation. Think about if you will be able to commit properly to the healing process. Not doing so can jeopardize the success of your surgery.
Full or partial?
Depending on factors like your age and the extent of the damage in your knee, you might not need a full replacement. If problem spots are limited to one particular area, a partial replacement might actually be the best choice. This option allows easier balancing and functional return in the original joint because it preserves more key ligaments than a full replacement does. On the other hand, your damage might be severe enough that a full replacement is warranted. This is often true in patients who are over 55 or who have had years of arthritic problems or genetic predisposition that impact joints.
Traditional or robotic?
After years of work and research at NYU Langone Hospital for Joint Diseases, our team has perfected traditional knee replacement surgeries and pioneered procedures that include the use of robotic technology — such as sensors, precision custom or patient specific instrumentation, and minimally invasive approach. Both the traditional as well as the advanced technology forms are incredibly effective and safe, and we are confident that you will be pleased with the results. Robotic techniques have greatly improved patient satisfaction through reduced healing time and less internal scarring. If getting back on your feet sooner is a priority, robotics might be a great option. With that in mind, the traditional approach, which includes opening the knee all the way up, is the better choice for those with extensive damage or particularly complex situations. We can discuss the pros and cons of both approaches in greater detail together.
Yes, there are a lot of things to consider as you prepare for a knee replacement. The most important thing to remember is that at the end of it all, you will have a knee that feels greatly improved and helps you be the best you.