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Complications After Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Total knee replacement surgery is also known as total knee arthroplasty. This surgery is generally highly successful offering excellent long-term results. Past studies have determined that approximately 97% of patients remain revision free after ten years. Nevertheless, patients sometimes experience complications after surgery.

Common complications include:


In an effort to prevent infections, antibiotics are usually prescribed before, during, and after surgery. Occasionally, however, a small percentage of cases may become infected. Complex cases or patients who are obese and/or in poor preoperative health may have an increased risk of infection.


Implants are held in place in one of two ways during total knee replacement surgery – Press-fit implants or cemented implants. Press-fit implants have a dimpled or rough surface which allows bone to grow into the implant thereby holding it in place. Cemented implants fit tightly into the bone because the hard substance surrounding the implant (the cement or glue) will act as a space filler which holds the implant in place. Over time, both of these methods of fixation can fail resulting in loosening of the implant and the possible need for revision.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

While DVT is a rare complication, it can be very serious. Blood clots, also known as thrombus, can form near the surgical site in the veins causing pain, swelling, and redness. A clot can dislodge and travel through a patient′s bloodstream becoming trapped in their lungs (pulmonary embolism) which can be fatal.

Joint Stiffness

Joint stiffness is considered to be the most common complication after surgery. Stiffness is specified as a flexion contracture that is equal to or more than 10 degrees or a full arc of motion that is less than 95 degrees. A patient′s joint can be considered stiff if it limits their ability to perform activities such as stair climbing, sitting, or walking.

Patellar Clunk Syndrome

This is a painful condition which is associated with a mechanical catching during active extension after total knee replacement surgery caused by the growth of interposing soft tissue at the superior pole of the patella.


  • Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics
    & Knee Center
    9180 Katy Freeway
    Suite 200
    Houston, TX 77055





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