Kneecap replacement surgery
The kneecap (patella) is located at the front of our knee. The largest sesamoid bone in our body, it attaches the thigh muscles (quadriceps) to the upper part of the lower leg bone (tibia).
The kneecap forms a joint with the femur (the thigh bone). Should anything affect the health of this joint, it can cause pain and stiffness in the knee.
Arthritis is a condition whereby joints in our bodies become inflamed, leading to pain and swelling in places such as our hands, spine and knees. Over 10 million people in the UK have some form of arthritis. It can affect people of all ages including children.
Osteoarthritis is the most common forms of arthritis, affecting our movements due to stiffness and pain. We may feel pain during the night or while we are resting, and we may experience deformity or swelling at the joints. Our joints can become affected so badly that surgery is needed to relieve the pain and to help improve our movement. Surgery can also be a way for us to stop further damage or deformity from happening.
If arthritis has only affected your kneecap, kneecap replacement surgery can restore movement to your knee and help to get you out of pain. If you have arthritis in your knee, or are wondering if you do, the best thing is for you to come in for a consultation to have things properly checked out.
Alternatives to surgery such as physiotherapy or injections can be effective in providing pain relief and should be considered before any surgery. However, arthritis can develop to the point where these conservative treatments are no longer as effective as before. In these cases, kneecap replacement surgery may be the best way to improve your knee movement, prevent any further damage and put a stop to the pain.
Kneecap replacement is a fairly new surgery where a specially engineered artificial joint replaces part of the joint in our knee which has been affected by arthritis. Compared to full knee replacement surgery, kneecap replacement means less discomfort for you and a quicker recovery time. It leaves you with a better range of motion afterwards and allows you to keep the majority of your natural knee joint.
If you decide to proceed with kneecap replacement surgery, you will need to be in hospital for two days for the operation and rehabilitation. You won't be able to eat anything for 8 hours before the operation, though you will be allowed to drink small amounts of water. You will be given a general anaesthetic for the duration of the surgery. A local anaesthetic will be injected into your knee at the end so that you wake up without pain.
During the operation I will make a small cut down the front of your knee, shave a few millimetres of damaged cartilage and bone from your kneecap and resurface it with the specially designed artificial joint. I will then close up the incision and your knee will be bandaged tightly to help prevent swelling. In some cases, you may need to have a drainage tube attached to your knee for up to 24 hours after surgery, which again serves to prevent swelling. It is normal to notice a patch of numb skin on the knee after surgery, and there may be some stiffness, but both of these things will improve over time.
You will need to stay in hospital for one to three days after the operation. During that time, the Sulis Hospital Bath physiotherapists will work with you on some exercises to help you to walk, and you can return home once you can manage stairs and move around by yourself. We will start you off using crutches and then progress to walking sticks over the course of your recovery. You'll need to take four to six weeks off working and driving to allow you to properly recover from the surgery.
Knee surgery has seen some amazing developments in recent years, including robotic-arm assistance which provides even greater levels of stability and precision. We have some of the best clinical results in the UK and are recognised nationally for our excellence and our innovative techniques.
As a doctor who specialises exclusively in problems of the knee, I know just how critical knees are in everyday life. I have suffered knee pain of my own in the past, and I know first-hand how much of a difference being pain free can make. I have also seen hundreds of people before and after knee surgery and know what a difference the right surgery has made to them.
Kneecap replacement surgery may be able to make a real difference to your quality of life and I would be delighted to meet with you to discuss this further. It's easy to get in touch, just call my private secretary Mandy on 01761 422 256 and she will talk you through things.