Knee replacement surgery

The knee is made up of the lower end of the thighbone (femur), the upper end of the shinbone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella). The place where the three bones meet are covered with articular cartilage, which protects the bones and enables them to move.

Knee Anatomy image to show the femur, tibia and patella

Partial Knee Replacement

During a partial knee replacement, your surgeon will only remove and replace the damaged compartment with metal and plastic. The healthy cartilage and bone in the rest of the knee is left intact.

Learn more about partial knee replacement.

Total Knee Replacement

The purpose of knee replacement surgery is to cut away the damaged bone of the knee joint and replace it with smooth, artificial implants.  This prevents the bones from rubbing together and provides a smooth knee joint.

There are four basic steps to a knee replacement procedure.

  • Prepare the bone. The damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur and tibia are removed along with a small amount of underlying bone.
  • Position the metal implants. The removed cartilage and bone is replaced with metal components that recreate the surface of the joint. These metal parts may be cemented or "press-fit" into the bone.
  • Resurface the patella. The undersurface of the patella (kneecap) is cut and resurfaced with a plastic button. Some surgeons do not resurface the patella, depending upon the case.
  • Insert a spacer. A medical-grade plastic spacer is inserted between the metal components to create a smooth gliding surface.

Learn more about total knee replacement. 

Please discuss nutrition, medication and treatment options with your doctor to make sure you are getting the proper care for your particular situation.  The information on this site does not replace your doctor's specific instructions.