Knee replacement problems: When is revision surgery needed?
If complications such as an infection arise, revision surgery on the knee replacement can’t be avoided. For other problems, you should only have surgery again if the doctors are sure what the cause of the problem is and it can be treated with a surgical procedure. If you don’t feel sure about it, you can get a second opinion.
Further (revision) surgery is performed on about 5 to 10% of all artificial knee joints within 10 years. It’s not always easy to tell whether revision surgery is needed when problems with a knee replacement arise. There are three possible situations:
- An acute complication: Revision surgery may be needed after an infection or a bone fracture, for example.
- Problems with the knee replacement: Revision surgery is often needed when there are problems with the knee replacement itself, such as loose parts. Sometimes there are other treatment options, or there are medical or personal reasons against revision surgery.
- Knee problems with other causes: Your knee may have problems that have nothing to do with the knee replacement or the joint. Then it’s not a good idea to have revision surgery, and it might even make things worse.
If your doctor advises you to have revision surgery, ask what they suspect is causing the problem and whether there are alternative treatments available. Your doctor is then required to tell you that you have the right to a second opinion free of charge before any revision surgery. It’s important to go to a specialist who has experience in the planned procedure.