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LIVING with severe osteoarthritis in the knee is painful and debilitating. However, with total knee replacement (TKR) surgery, you could regain quality of life.

Datuk Dr Lim Boon Ping, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Subang Jaya Medical Centre, says, “TKR is a common surgery performed on elderly patients. It involves opening the knee joint, resurfacing the worn, painful joint with a metal alloy and using a high-density polyethylene (plastic) between the surfaces of the joint.”

However, he notes that TKR is suggested only to those with severe osteoarthritis, and not mild or moderate cases. It is advised only as a last resort after it is determined that painkillers and lifestyle modifications have failed to reduce the pain in the knee when conducting daily activities.

Clear expectations

Before proceeding with TKR, it is important for a patient to understand the full procedure and what to expect before, during and after surgery.

Dr Lim summarises, “Before surgery, the doctor will explain the procedure and risks involved. The patient’s history of illnesses and allergies are discussed and managed, to reduce risks before admission for surgery.”

X-rays of the knees, an assessment of the patient’s

suitability to go under anaesthesia and blood tests for underlying medical conditions are performed during preparation for surgery. In addition, patients are asked to fast six hours prior to surgery. The surgery takes between one and two hours and is performed through an anterior (front of the knee) incision.

Dr Lim continues, “After surgery, a physiotherapist will guide the patient through lowerlimb exercises and, subsequently, walking, the very next day. The patient is encouraged to use his full body weight on his lower limbs and bend and stretch the knee as much as he can. The more this is done, the faster his recovery. Thus, a patient with better pain control who moves and exercises his knee and ankle more frequently will recover faster.”

After the patient is able to walk well with a walking frame, he will be discharged from the hospital. He will still be required to undergo follow-ups as determined by his doctor and continue physiotherapy exercises at home to ensure smooth recovery.

Walking through life anew

After TKR, Dr Lim states that almost all patients should be able to walk long distances, jog, cycle and climb hills or stairs with ease and painlessly within three to four months.

There is also no need to worry about the longevity of your new knee. He says, “The replaced knee usually lasts around 25 years with normal usage for a patient of average weight. While there are risks with this surgery, the probabilities of occurrence are only 0.5% for infections, 0.001% for deep-vein thrombosis leading to pulmonary embolism and 20% for residual mild pain and weakness that do not require analgesics or painkillers.”

TKR is a relatively low-risk surgery with a high success rate and not only gives you the ability to walk painlessly again, but also a new lease on life.

For more information, call 03-5639 1212.