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Revision total knee replacement

3-minute read

This page will give you information about a revision total knee replacement. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

You can also download and print a PDF version of this factsheet, with space for your own questions or notes.

What is a revision total knee replacement?

A revision total knee replacement is an operation to take out your old knee replacement and put in a new one.

A knee replacement can fail for the following reasons.

  • wearing out of the artificial joint
  • infection in your knee replacement
  • dislocation
  • fracture around your knee replacement

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should be able to walk better and do more of your normal activities.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Surgery is the only treatment for a knee replacement that is failing.

If your knee replacement keeps coming out of joint, you can wear a brace.

If you have an infection, you can sometimes prevent your knee replacement from failing by taking antibiotics.

Illustration showing a revision total knee replacement.
A revision total knee replacement.

If you have a fracture, you can sometimes have an operation to fix the fracture, without changing your knee replacement.

What does the operation involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible.

Your surgeon will make a cut on the front of your knee. They will remove your knee replacement and any cement.

Your surgeon will put in a new knee replacement. This is fixed into the bone using acrylic cement.

The type of surgery you need can be more complicated if you have an infection, or the bone is thin or broken.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • pain
  • bleeding
  • unsightly scarring
  • difficulty passing urine
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • blood clots
  • chest infection
  • heart attack
  • stroke

Specific complications

  • split in the bone
  • damage to ligaments or tendons
  • damage to nerves
  • damage to blood vessels
  • infection in your knee
  • loosening
  • dislocation
  • continued discomfort
  • severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of your knee

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after 4 to 7 days.

You will need to use crutches or walking sticks for a few weeks.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

A revision total knee replacement can fail with time.

Summary

If your original knee replacement fails, you can usually have another operation to do your knee replacement again. If this revision operation is successful, you should be able to continue many of your normal activities.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION
The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2018

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