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Nov 7, 2023

On today’s show, we are talking about knee replacement surgery with Dawn Richardson, a friend I met in my last couple of years in the Army. Dawn is a retired Navy Captain, former restaurant manager, and former Bed and Breakfast owner who is delighted to say she's now retired and finds fulfillment in her volunteer activities and personal pursuits. 

About 4% of people 50 and older have knee replacements.  At age 80, that number is above 10%. The average age is 65 and more women than men have knee replacements. 

Three facts we were surprised to hear after speaking with Dawn: 

  1. You aren’t supposed to travel for 6 weeks
  2.  You aren’t supposed to kneel on that knee for 6 months
  3.  You shouldn’t have any non-emergency dental work for 6 months to include cleanings

These surgeries have evolved greatly after the use of minimally invasive scope-type surgeries.  

Normal vs Arthritic Knee

Total knee replacement is a type of surgery to replace a damaged knee joint. A minimally invasive surgery uses a smaller cut (incision) than a traditional total knee replacement. This type of surgery typically requires special tools so that the surgery team can see and do the procedure through the smaller incision.

The knee has several parts: the lower end of the thigh bone (femur), the upper end of the shin bone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella). A smooth substance called cartilage caps the ends of these bones and keeps the bones from grinding together. When there is damage to the knee joint, these bones may scrape together abnormally and cause pain.

During minimally invasive total knee replacement, your surgeon makes an incision to access your shinbone and thigh bone. Next, he or she removes a portion of the bones that make up the knee joint. Your surgeon replaces these bone parts with metal components that recreate the joint surface. A layer of plastic is placed between the metal components for smooth gliding.

Minimally invasive total knee replacement often takes place under general or spinal anesthesia. (credits: Johns Hopkins Medical)