Knee replacement surgery, also known as arthroplasty, is a medical procedure that involves resurfacing a knee that has been damaged and not fully functional due to severe arthritis or a debilitating knee injury. In knee replacement surgery, a surgeon uses plastic and metal parts to cap the ends of bones forming the knee joint.
The goal of the knee replacement surgery is to relieve the patient of knee pain and restore fuller mobility of the knee. Surgery is typically recommended after other, less invasive forms of treatment have failed.Reasons for Knee Replacement Surgery
Osteoarthritis is the most common complaint leading to knee replacement surgery; however, rheumatoid arthritis may also lead to knee problems and surgery. Osteoarthritis is a severe degenerative joint disease that gradually disintegrates the knee joint cartilage, damaging both cartilage and bones.
Causing significant pain, osteoarthritis may inhibit people from normal activities, even walking on steps, due to the extent of pain experienced. Osteoarthritis also makes the knee weak and unstable, which causes one to become more vulnerable to falls while walking.
Common forms of treatment preceding knee replacement surgery include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Limiting one’s scope of activities involving the knee
- Pain medications
- Use of a cane, crutches or walker
- Physical therapy
- Viscosupplementation injections (add lubrication to the knee joint)
- Cortisone injections (into the knee joint)
- Weight loss program
There are approximately 700,000 knee replacement surgeries every year in the United States—and this number is expected to rise to over 3 million by the year 2030. On the whole, knee replacement surgery is relatively safe, with only about 2% of cases reporting significant problems following surgery, and 1 in 400 deaths. Approximately 90% of patients experience a significant improvement in locomotion and decrease of pain following knee replacement surgery.What You can Expect With a Knee Replacement Surgery
Some people have knee replacement surgery as an out-patient procedure, going home the day of the operation, while others are hospitalized for 1 to 4 days in order to recuperate. Some patients are administered an intravenous line (IV) for precautionary measures, while some are not.
Either general anesthesia or a spinal (epidural) anesthesia are given at the beginning of the surgery, which takes from 1 to 2 hours. Severity of surgery varies according to the damage and health of the patient
Following surgery, most patients are able to walk within a day, sometimes with use of a walking device such as crutches. Within a month, recovery should be substantial and use of the knee greatly improved. Most knee replacement surgery involves follow-up with a physical therapist who will help and advise you on how to continue to strengthen your knee.Knee Replacement Side Effects & Complications
Most serious side effects or complications caused by knee replacement surgery are due to failure of the device to function properly. Sometimes problems are caused by issues associated with the surgery itself. When the device fails to work properly, patients may experience serious and debilitating problems.
Typical knee replacement risks include:
- blood clots in leg or lungs;
- heart attack;
- nerve damage;
The above risks are associated with most major surgeries; however, they are all serious. If you have any outstanding pain or symptoms following your knee replacement surgery, contact your doctor immediately.
Complications associated with knee replacement surgery include:
- strange clicking, crunching, or popping sounds when walking;
- damage inflicted upon the joint, muscle, bone, or nerves during surgery;
- infection and inflammation of the knee;
- severe pain;
- decreased mobility while standing or walking;
- implant becomes detached from knee;
- implant disassociation of implant;
- Patello-Femoral Tracking-Lateral Release (kneecap shifts out of place).
Having experienced one of the above knee surgery complications is a good indication that the surgery was not successful. It may also be grounds for a successful personal injury lawsuit.
Two companies in particular have had significant lawsuit actions filed against them for defective medical devices: Arthrex and Exactech.
Arthrex recalled its Arthrex iBalance TKA Tibial Tray—a portion of the Arthrex iBalance Total.
Knee Arthroplasty (TKA) System—in 2015. Recognition that the texture of the implant made it incompatible with other portions of the implant prompted recall of the product.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) reported that components of the Exactech Optetrak knee replacement device were failing prematurely, caused primarily by tibial insert wear resulting in tear of the implant. According to a study by Orthopaedics & Traumatology: Surgery & Research, patients experienced high levels of dissatisfaction and malfunctioning of Exactech’s knee replacement product.
The following claims were made by Exactech patients:
- 22% had significant and chronic pain, requiring painkillers;
- 15% were disappointed and/or dissatisfied;
- 21% experienced early stages of patellofemoral conflict;
- 22% suffered from loosening of the tibial implant;
- 13 patients (of 106) required revision surgery due to numerous problems, including tibial loosening and patellofemoral instability or pain.
If you have had significant problems or complications resulting from a knee replacement surgery, you should consider filing a personal injury lawsuit for the damages you have suffered. Most lawsuits will be geared towards proving that the knee replacement implant manufacturer made and marketed a defective medical device that resulted in your medical complications.
The damages you can sue for in a knee replacement personal injury case include:
- physical complications and adverse reactions resulting from the device;
- emotional pain and suffering, including mental anguish;
- time lost from work (and missed pay) due to worsened medical condition;
- additional medical expenses such as subsequent surgeries.
Contact Chris Jackman Law Firm for a free personal injury consultation today.