Day Of Knee Implant Surgery: Timeline

Knee replacement surgery is the same idea as having most things fixed—worn parts are taken out, and new parts are installed in their places. In knee surgery, the damaged portions of the knee bones are removed, and your knee is resurfaced with metal and plastic implants. Here's what you can expect on a typical day of knee surgery:

  • A small tube (intravenous line) is inserted into your arm. This tube is used to administer antibiotics and other medication during your surgery.
  • You're taken to the operating room and given anesthesia.
  • Anesthesia takes effect, and your knee is scrubbed and sterilized with a special solution.
  • Knee replacement surgery usually takes between one and three hours, and begins with an incision over the knee to expose the joint.
  • Bones are fully visible to the surgeon, and special precision guides and instruments are used to remove the damaged surfaces and shape the ends of the bones to accept the implants.
  • The implants are secured to the bones. It might also be necessary to adjust the ligaments that surround your knee to achieve the best possible knee function.
  • When the surgeon is satisfied with the fit and function of the implants, the incision is closed.
  • A special drain may be inserted into the wound to drain the fluids that naturally develop at the surgical site.
  • A sterile bandage is applied.
  • You're taken to the recovery room, where you will be closely monitored.
  • Anesthesia wears off, and you slowly regain consciousness. A nurse is with you and may encourage you to cough or breathe deeply to help clear your lungs. You're given pain medication.
  • You are fully awake and are taken to your hospital room.
  • Your knee remains swollen and tender for a few days.
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To find a doctor near you, click the ‘find-a-doc’ link. For printed information on joint replacement, call 1-800-HIP-KNEE.
Talk to your surgeon about whether joint replacement or another treatment is right for you and the risks of the procedure, including the risk of implant wear, loosening or failure, and pain, swelling and infection. Zimmer Biomet does not practice medicine; only a surgeon can answer your questions regarding your individual symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.