Total Knee Replacement: What to Know About Cost, Procedure and Choosing a Knee Surgeon
The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. When working properly, the knee helps you complete daily activities like getting in and out of bed, walking and climbing stairs. On the other hand, chronic knee pain can take a hit on your quality of life by causing physical suffering, lowering self-esteem, negatively impacting relationships.
If you have severe knee pain or stiffness that limits you from enjoying everyday activities, it may be time to consider total knee replacement surgery.
Finding the best knee surgeon for your total knee replacement surgery can be challenging. We’ve got some tips on selecting a knee surgeon who will guide you through the total knee replacement surgery and recovery process, and importantly, at an affordable rate.
But first, let’s cover the basics of the total knee replacement procedure and cost.
What is total knee replacement surgery?
Total knee replacement surgery is considered for patients whose knee joints have been damaged either by progressive arthritis, trauma, or other destructive diseases of the joint. During total knee replacement surgery, a problematic knee joint is replaced with artificial material, called a “prosthesis.” Specifically, a prosthesis is made up of a metal shell replacing the end of the femur bone, and a channeled plastic piece with a metal stem replacing the end of the tibia bone. Most knee replacement procedures take around two hours to complete.
Why get a total knee replacement?
A prosthetic knee can help restore normal joint function and reduce chronic knee pain, which can greatly improve quality of life. Patients who choose to have total knee replacement surgery often have one or more of the following conditions:
- Severe knee pain that limits everyday activities (difficulty walking more than a few blocks, getting in and out of chairs, or climbing stairs without significant pain)
- Moderate or severe pain while resting, either during the day or at night
- Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medication
- A knee deformity, such as severe knee bowing
- Knee pain that does not respond to other treatments like anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, lubricating injections or physical therapy
Who is a good candidate?
Patients who have knee joints damaged by arthritis, trauma, or joint disease, and who experience moderate to severe knee pain that does not respond to other treatments may be good candidates for total knee replacement surgery. Most patients who get a total knee replacement are between the age of 50 to 80. But orthopaedic surgeons will evaluate each patient individually, and recommendations for surgery are usually based on a patient’s pain rather than age.
What are the risks?
Like any other surgery, total knee replacement surgery has associated risks. Risks of surgery include:
- Blood clots that can lead to pulmonary embolism
- Urinary tract infection
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chronic knee pain and stiffness
- Nerve damage
- Heart, lung, kidney and liver damage from anesthesia
It’s important to remember that these risks are rare. Choosing a qualified and experienced surgeon, and practicing self-care during the recovery process, can greatly reduce the risk of surgical complications. Don’t hesitate to talk through these risks with your surgeon.
How long does total knee replacement recovery take?
Patients are usually able to leave the hospital around two or three days after surgery. The recovery process can take four to six weeks, after which patients can resume daily activities and light exercise. Most patients are 90% recovered after three months, though it can take six months or longer before reaching 100% recovery.
How much will it cost?
In the US, the average hospital charge for a total knee replacement is $49,500. A partial knee replacement costs about 10%-20% less. This amount can vary greatly, depending on different factors such as insurance coverage, number of days spent in the hospital, pre-existing conditions, surgical approach and implant materials, and unanticipated care or equipment needed. Some patients opt to have their total knee replacement done overseas, as the cost of surgery can drop by 50%-80%.
How to choose a knee surgeon?
Here at MedRepublic, we’ve connected patients with some of the best total knee replacement surgeons around the world for more than 11 years. While our platform allows you to search, compare, and connect with knee surgeons, we understand the selection process can be challenging.
Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when selecting a knee surgeon:
- Choose a surgeon who has the appropriate orthopaedic surgery certification and training, and works in an accredited hospital.
- Make sure the surgeon has a lot of experience performing total knee replacements (at least 50 successful times).
- Check the surgeon’s record for before and after photos of previous patients, and do some research about any reported legal malpractice against them.
- Talk with your surgeon and make sure you trust them and feel comfortable with their communication style.
- Compare costs, as they may vary from surgeon to surgeon, to find a rate that you are comfortable with.
For more on choosing a knee surgeon, check out our previous post on how to choose a plastic surgeon.
Choosing the right knee surgeon for your total knee replacement surgery is a huge step forward towards reducing chronic knee pain and getting back to your favorite activities. If you are considering total knee replacement surgery or have any questions on how to find a top-notch, affordable surgeon, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today!