As with any surgery, knee replacement surgery carries risks, including:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots in the leg vein or lungs
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Nerve damage

Signs of infection

Although the risk of infection is low, notify your doctor immediately if you notice:

  • Fever greater than 100 F (37.8 C)
  • Shaking chills
  • Drainage from the surgical site
  • Increasing redness, tenderness, swelling and pain in the knee

An infected knee replacement usually requires surgery to remove the artificial parts and antibiotics to kill the bacteria. After the infection is cleared, another surgery is performed to install a new knee. Your chances of a good or excellent outcome that reduces pain and improves function decline with each additional surgery.

Artificial knees can wear out

Another risk of knee replacement surgery is failure of the artificial joint. Subjected to daily stress, even the strongest metal and plastic parts eventually wear out. You're at a greater risk of joint failure if you put more stress on the joint with high-impact activities or excessive weight.

Oct. 30, 2012