Knee Replacement Surgery Complications

Although rare, complications from knee replacement surgery can occur. Problems can range from infections to blood clots to loss of life. Although your healthcare providers take every precaution to prevent these from happening, your overall health plays a role, too. You are more likely to develop complications if you have other existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Complications of Knee Replacement Surgery: An Introduction

No medical procedure is ever completely free of risks; however, total knee replacement surgery has been performed for many years with successful results and limited complications.

Minor Complications

Minor complications are usually temporary, and are often easily treated by your healthcare providers.
Minor complications of knee replacement surgery can include:
  • Infection
  • Numbness around the incision
  • Minor bleeding or bruising
  • Allergic skin reaction to tape, dressing, or latex
  • Abnormal or painful scar formation
  • Urinary tract infection.

Major Complications

Several major problems can also occur. These are uncommon; however, your overall health will play a role in your likelihood of developing complications and how well you recover. For example, people with severe heart disease, diabetes, lung, or kidney disease may have a higher chance of problems occurring than those who are healthier.
Depending on your individual situation, a major complication from knee replacement surgery may lead to a longer hospital stay, blood transfusion, a repeat surgery (including knee revision), or, in infrequent cases, permanent disability or even loss of life.
Major problems include but are not limited to:
  • Serious infections
  • Knee fracture
  • Patellar tendon damage
  • Failure of the metal or plastic joint
  • Premature wear of the implant
  • Decreased knee motion
  • Persistent knee pain
  • Serious bleeding from damage to blood vessels
  • Permanent nerve damage leading to weakness and/or numbness of the leg or foot
  • Blood clots in the legs, pelvis, or lungs
  • Stroke
  • Reaction to anesthesia or medication
  • Heart attack
  • Loss of life
  • Other rare and improbable events.
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Total Knee Replacement

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