Knee replacement

Synonyms: Knee arthroplasty

Medical Specialties: Orthopedics, Physical medicine & rehab, Surgery

Clinical Definition

Knee replacement is an orthopedic surgery performed to replace damaged articular cartilage, loss of bone structure or ligament support. The surgery involves removing a portion of bone and replacing it with a prosthetic that can be made out of cobalt chrome, titanium or polyethylene. 

In Our Own Words

The knee is the largest joint in the body and having healthy knees is required to perform most everyday activities. Typically done to relieve severe pain caused by degeneration of the bone and cartilage in the knee, arthritis is the most frequent cause of this degeneration. Knee replacement is an invasive surgical procedure that involves removing a portion of the knee bone and covering it with a combination of metal and plastic to form a new joint surface.


While there are different types of knee replacement configurations depending on the patient and amount of bone damage, surgery is performed to relieve severe pain caused by cartilage degeneration in the knee, advanced arthritis or serious injury.  

Relevant Conditions
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Post-traumatic arthritis
Common Types
  • Total knee replacement
  • Partial knee replacement
Side Effects
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Implant problems (continued pain)
Share this article
  • Cleveland Clinic. Orthopedic & Rheumatologic Institute. Treatments & Procedures. Accessed Aug. 2013.
  • American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Early mobilization: Activities After Knee Replacement. Accessed Sept. 2013.
  • American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Total Knee Replacement. Pain Management Oct. 2007. Accessed Sept. 2013.
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