Disadvantages of Knee Replacement Surgery

The disadvantages of knee replacement surgery include wear in artificial knee joints, complications involving anesthesia, deep vein thrombosis, infection, as well as knee stiffness and loss of motion, to name a few. 

These cases are also potential reasons for a revision surgery. And although the procedure can be done if necessary, revision surgery is a more complicated operation that utilizes specialized tools and requires longer recovery time. Unfortunately, some patients have no choice but to go through it. 

Such is the case with individuals who received the recently recalled Exactech knee, ankle, and hip implants. According to the recall notice, thousands of knee ankle implants manufactured by Exactech have non-conforming packaging that failed to protect the devices from being exposed to oxygen. 

This could trigger a process called oxidation, which could cause severe degradation to the components of the implant, leading to potential injuries such as bone loss, component fatigue, and early failure. All of which could lead to corrective revision surgery. 

The dangers that the Exactech knee, ankle, and hip implants present have led victims across the United States to file an Exactech lawsuit

Although today, knee replacement surgery is considered a standard procedure, it still has disadvantages and risks that every patient should be aware of before undergoing operation.

Risks Associated with Knee Replacement Surgery

Total knee replacement is considered a major surgery. And although it is one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine, as with any other surgeries, it still has risks. The disadvantages of knee replacement surgery are listed below. 

Wear in Artificial Knee Joints

Most knee replacements are designed to last for several years, but artificial knee joints can still wear out over time. The younger the patient is at the time of the knee replacement, the higher the risk of wearing out the artificial joint earlier. This results in a repeat knee operation later in life.

The chances of requiring repeat surgery are also increased if:

  • you’re overweight
  • you do heavy manual labor
  • you play vigorous sports 

Evidence exists that long-term wear of the implant affects 6 percent of patients after 5 years and 12 percent after 10 years. 

Complications Involving Anesthesia

A general or local anesthesia may be used during knee replacement. Although both are generally safe, in rare instances, it can also result in adverse effects. 

Some of the most common side effects of anesthesia include:

  • Vomiting 
  • Dizziness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Muscle aches
  • Discomfort
  • Drowsiness
  • Shivering
  • Sleepiness
  • Sore throat or hoarseness

Post-operative cognitive dysfunction can also occur in patients aged 60 years or older. Certain medications and supplements may interfere with anesthesia. Make sure to tell your doctor in advance about any medicines you are taking to reduce the risk of problems. 

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in one or more veins located in the lower leg or thigh. Joint replacement patients are at highest risk for developing deep vein thrombosis within two to 10 days following surgery. 

DVT still remains a risk for patients for approximately three months after the procedure. When a part of the blood clot travels through the bloodstream and into the lungs, this is called pulmonary embolism. It can cause blockage of blood flow and is potentially life-threatening. 


In rare instances, infection can occur after knee surgery. And when it does occur, it requires immediate medical attention, as it is a serious condition. 

Infection occurs if bacteria attach to the artificial knee during or after surgery. An artificial knee does not have the ability to respond to your immune system like how a natural knee would. Therefore, if bacteria enter the artificial knee joint, it may multiply and lead to infection. 

Healthcare professionals reduce the risk of infection by maintaining a sterile environment around the patient and by only using sterilized medical and surgical instruments. 

Certain groups of people such as those with HIV and diabetes have an increased likelihood of developing infections. This is because their medical condition tends to weaken the immune system’s defenses. 

Knee Stiffness and Loss of Motion

Another potential complications of total knee arthroplasty are stiffness and loss of motion. Excessive scar formation, improper positioning of the implants, and other surgical complications can cause lack of motion after knee replacement. 

Some ways to avoid stiffness include physical therapy and appropriate pain control. Early treatment of knee stiffness following surgery is important. Delayed detection of the problem may lead to delayed treatment of up to six months or more. In such cases, revision knee replacement may be the only option.

Sensitivity and Allergy to Metals

Joint replacement implants may contain nickel, cobalt, and chromium, which are metal ions that commonly cause hypersensitivity. 

Some hypersensitivity reactions that may occur in patients after receiving knee implants include dermatitis and synovitis. Dermatitis can cause a skin rash over the front of the knee and can also become more widespread in other people. 

On the other hand, synovitis is inflammation of the synovium, which is the lining of the knee joint. It can occur with knee infections and hypersensitivity response. 

Be sure to have a conversation with your surgeon before undergoing total knee arthroplasty if you have hypersensitivity reactions to metal. 

Problems With Wound Healing

Sutures or staples may be used to close the wound after joint replacement surgery. These typically stay for up to two weeks. Incision healing is a top concern for many people undergoing the procedure. 

The most common signs of a problem with the surgical incision are persistent or worsening wound drainage. Although it is normal for a wound to have some drainage immediately after surgery, drainage that lasts for more than 72 hours after wound closure is not normal. 

Persistent Pain

One of the most common reasons for some patient’s dissatisfaction with the results of TKR surgery is persistent pain around the new joint replacement. For others, some degree of pain after the procedure tends to improve over time. 

In the treatment of persistent pain, it is important to find out its root cause first. Without this knowledge, there can be no appropriate treatment. Some causes of pain following knee replacement include infection, loosening of the implant, or alignment problems. 

In a recent study, a year after surgery, 4 in 10 patients still reported a 3-5/10 knee pain. In another study, 44% of patients who underwent knee replacement reported persistent pain, with 15% having severe pain. 

What are the signs of needing a knee replacement?

Some of the signs that an individual might need a knee replacement include persistent pain, limitation of overall movement, unsuccessful non-surgical treatments, and reduced quality of life. 

If you have one or more signs that you are in need of knee replacement surgery, it is best to talk to your doctor first about your options. TKR surgery is a standard procedure that countless patients undergo every year. Although it is generally safe, it is also important to ask your doctor about what you should expect, potential complications, and how to spot them. 

This can help you decide on whether to proceed with the surgery and promptly take action in case a problem arises. 

What You Can Do

If complications arise following a knee joint replacement surgery, you should first seek medical attention from your surgeon. They are likely to try non-surgical treatment options first. However, if the complication does not respond to any of the first line treatments, a corrective revision surgery may be the last resort. 

If you or your loved one suffered from injuries and needed revision surgery after receiving an Exactech knee, ankle, and hip implant, you may have a case against the device’s manufacturer. After making sure that you have received medical attention for your injuries, the next best option is for you to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. 

Different statute of limitations exist in different states, which puts a time limit on how long you can file a claim against Exactech. Do not hesitate to contact us today and we will put you in touch with our Exactech attorneys who can evaluate your claim. 

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