ARTHROPLASTY

What is Arthroplasty?

Arthroplasty, also known as joint replacement surgery, refers to an orthopedic surgical procedure carried out to replace a damaged joint with an artificial joint made of either metal, ceramic, or plastic. Arthroplasty could also refer to a surgical procedure carried out to restore the function of a joint by resurfacing the bones involved.

This procedure can help relieve pain and restore function in severely diseased knee joints.

What are the Conditions for Arthroplasty?

Osteoarthritis, which refers to a degenerative joint disease that results from the breakdown of joint cartilage, may turn out as the most common reason for arthroplasty. 

A specialist may recommend arthroplasty for individuals with chronic joint pain. Possible causes of this joint pain may include arthritis especially osteoarthritis, bursitis, cartilage loss from aging or wear and tear, inflammation of the tendons, and injuries that involve bone or soft tissue damage.

A specialist may also recommend arthroplasty when other non-surgical treatments no longer effectively relieve joint pain and disability. Medical treatments that specialists recommend to treat joint pain and disability before arthroplasty include:

1- Pain and anti-inflammatory medicines

2- Physical therapy

3- Use of assisted devices for walking

4- Weight loss in the case of the obese

5- Cortisone injections into the knee joint

How Should a Patient Prepare for Arthroplasty?

Before the surgery, the specialist will explain the risks, benefits, and general procedure to the patient and offer the chance to ask any questions about the procedure. In addition to complete medical history, the specialist may perform a complete physical exam on the patient together with blood tests or other diagnostic tests. The patient will need to sign a consent form before the surgical procedure.

The patient may need to stop taking any drug that affects blood clotting such as aspirin before the procedure. The specialist will also ask that the patient fasts for at least 8 hours before the procedure.

The patient might need to use crutches or a walker for several weeks after the procedure so arranging for these materials before the surgery will prove very helpful. Patients should make sure to have a ride home from the hospital and someone to help with everyday tasks, such as cooking, bathing, and doing laundry. If the patient lives alone, the surgeon’s staff or hospital discharge planner can help suggest a temporary caretaker.

What are the Benefits of Arthroplasty?

Arthroplasty helps individuals who suffer from chronic and excruciating joint pain. Joint replacement surgery allows these individuals to resume activities and hobbies like biking, hiking, swimming, and golf.

 According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a total hip replacement remains associated with reduced mortality, heart failure, depression, and diabetes rates. Joint replacements usually last for about 10-15 years and may last longer depending on the specific individual. Arthroplasty generally leads to an overall improvement in life quality.

What are the Complications of Arthroplasty?

Arthroplasty may present various complications as with any other surgical procedure. The possible risks may depend on the individual’s specific medical condition. Injury of nerves or blood vessels in the area of surgery may occur and lead to weakness or numbness. The surgical procedure may not relieve the joint pain and the complete function of the joint may not return. 

Other possible complications may include:

1- Blood clots in the legs

2- Bleeding

3- Infection

4- Loosening and mechanical wear of prosthetic parts

A patient may notify the specialist after the procedure to report any of the following:

1- An increased pain around the incision site

2- Fever, inflammation, or bleeding around the affected areas 

3- Numbness or tingling of the affected limb

References

Jared R. H. Foran. “Hip Resurfacing”. OrthoInfo. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Retrieved 2017-06-26. Last reviewed: March 2014 

American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS). Setting Expectations With Your Surgeon. (https://hipknee.aahks.org/setting-expectations-with-your-surgeon/) Accessed 7/21/2021.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Total Hip Replacement. (https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/total-hip-replacement) Accessed 7/21/2021.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Total Joint Replacement. (https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/total-joint-replacement/) Accessed 7/21/2021.