Majority of the Total Knee Replacement surgeries are successful, however, every surgical procedure has some risks attached to it and so complications might occur.
Some complications might occur due to surgery, other may occur due to body’s reaction to a surgery. There may be other factors governing the complications such as age, general health of the patient or side-effect from any medicine or vaccination.
In extremely rare circumstances complications can be life threatening and in some cases second surgery might be needed. Below is the list of some potential complications that can occur post knee replacement surgery:
Anesthesia: Before surgery anesthesia is given so that the patient is unresponsive to any kind of pain. There are two kinds of anesthesia. One is spinal anesthesia, which numbs the leg or the lower body but the patient remains awake during the surgery. The other kind of anesthesia is general anesthesia, which makes the patient unconscious and unresponsive to overall pain.
There are less side-effects associated with Spinal anesthesia as compared to General anesthesia. Like for example, less drowsiness post surgery and the risk of blood loss, clots, heart attack, and stroke are severely reduced in spinal anesthesia.
Side effects from spinal anesthesia can include:
- Urinating problems
- Allergic reactions
Side effects from general anesthesia can include:
- Sore Throat
- Heart attack (rare occurrence)
Infection: Any open surgical wound can allow entry of a bacteria, which could turn into an infection. There is a risk of infection with every surgical procedure. Doctors take utmost care so that the infection does not happen but sometimes infection can crop up.
Antibiotics are prescribed by the doctors to reduce the risk of the infection immediately after the surgery. Post knee replacement surgery, you need to watch for the following signs for an infection:
- Discharge from the surgical area
- Fever or chills
Clots: Blood clots in the leg veins are the most common complication of knee replacement surgery. Your doctor will recommend periodic elevation of your legs, exercises to increase blood circulation and medication to thin your blood. Yet blood clots might occur.
Bleeding risks: In rare cases, patient may lose too much blood and might need a blood transfusion.
Swelling and Pain: Pain should gradually ease out. However, if there is a swelling in the knee, foot or ankle or there is unbearable continuous pain, in that case you need to see your doctor.
Allergic reaction: Some people are allergic to metals used in the knee implant. Watch for symptoms like redness, headache, diarrhea, skin rashes. It is always advisable to take a metal allergy test before the surgery.
Nerve or other tissue damage: There is a small risk of ligaments, arteries or nerves getting damaged post knee replacement surgery. If this happens, then you might have to undergo a second surgery.
Disclaimer: If you notice other complications not listed above, contact your doctor for medical advice.