Robotic Knee Replacement FAQs

Q&A: Partial Knee Resurfacing

Frequently asked questions

Why should I come to HSS for my surgery?


Hospital for Special Surgery more joint replacements of any hospital in the world. This allows us to optimize your care in every way. It is well established that fewer post-operative complications occur if surgery is performed at a joint replacement center. HSS has been rated the top orthopedic hospital by US News and World Report for the last five years. Our nursing staff has also been recognized with the prestigious Magnet Award for Nursing Excellence. At HSS, you will find the best surgeons, the best hospital, and the best nurses -- a winning combination for successful outcomes.




How long will I be in the hospital?


After partial knee replacement, patients usually go home the same day or spend the night in the hospital.




What can I expect in the first couple weeks after the surgery?


For 1-2 weeks after surgery, your activity level is usually limited, however, you will be able to walk independently and do normal household chores. You may leave the house once you feel safe using the cane.




What can I expect at 6 weeks post-op?


Within 6 weeks, you will have resumed most of your normal activities. Squatting and kneeling will come with time.




When can I return to work?


It depends on your occupation. It is never a mistake to take more time off in the beginning of your recovery, as it will give you time to focus on your surgery. I recommend taking at least 1-2 weeks off for partial knee replacement. Keep in mind that you may still be using a cane at 1-2 weeks and it may be difficult to commute.




When can I drive?


You should not drive as long as you are taking narcotic pain medication. If it is your left knee, you can resume driving when you are off the pain meds. If it is your right knee, I usually allow driving 2-4 weeks after partial knee replacement.




When can I play golf after partial knee replacement?


Typically patients are able to get back on the golf course 4-6 weeks after surgery, albeit with some pain and stiffness. Be patient - at 3 months, patient usually feel much more comfortable playing golf or tennis than they do at 6 weeks.




How long should I use the pain medication?


This is different for each patient; some are able to use Tylenol or Advil after you leave the hospital, and others require pain medication as needed for 1-2 weeks. A general rule is that you should try to decrease your use of these medications as time passes.




When can I shower?


I do not like your stitches or staples to get wet. Therefore, you may shower when you get home, but the incision will need to be covered. I recommend using saran wrap around the area to prevent it from getting wet. The stitches or staples will be removed at the first follow up appointment 7-14 days after the surgery; thereafter, it is safe to get the incision wet.




Is there a better time of year to have the surgery?


This is a personal decision; some patients like to have the surgery in good weather so that they may walk outdoors as part of their recovery; others prefer to do the surgery in the winter so that they may recover in time to participate in springtime activities.




Do I need a special card to tell the airport screeners that I have a metal implant?


You do not need a card to get through the airport; however, your implant will likely set off the metal detector. In this day and age, you will need to be hand-screened, so please leave extra time when you travel. We do provide an implant card for your convenience, which will be available postoperatively.




Can I get an MRI?


Yes, MRI are perfectly safe with a partial knee replacement. An MRI in the area of the joint implant, however, will not yield good pictures because of artifact created by the metal. MRI of a joint replacement should be performed at a facility with experience with techniques used to suppress the metal artifact.




When should I go to outpatient therapy?


I like to see you in follow up before you go as an outpatient; that way I can tailor your PT to what you need. However, if you feel that it is essential that you begin outpatient PT right away, you can call my office and we will provide a prescription and a list of places.




I feel "clicking" inside the knee, is this normal?


The clicking is a result of the soft tissue moving across the joint, or the metal parts coming into contact with one another. This sensation usually diminishes as your muscles get stronger.




My knee still feels stiff 6 weeks after the operation - is this normal?


Surgical healing usually takes 6-8 weeks. However, the tissues remain swollen which can cause discomfort for some time. This is usually manageable with over the counter medications like Aleve or Tylenol although sometimes prescribed pain pills are necessary. Over time, the knee tissues begin to soften and become more natural.




I am experiencing a lot of swelling, is this normal?


Fluid can accumulate in the legs due to the effect of gravity. It is not unusual that you didn't have it in the hospital, but it got worse when you went home (because you are doing more!) To combat this, you should elevate your legs at night by lying on your back and placing pillows under the legs so that they are above your heart. There are also TEDS stocking (the white stockings from the hospital) that you can put on during the day - have someone help you on with them in the morning, use them during the day, and then take them off at night. If you did not get the TEDS from the hospital, you can purchase knee high, medium (15-20 mm Hg) compression surgical stockings at most drug stores.




I notice an area of numbness around my knee - is this normal?


You may notice a small area of numbness on the outside area of the knee incision. This may or may not resolve over time.




When can I go to the dentist?


Please wait until 3 months after surgery, as the joint is still healing and there is increased blood flow to this area.




Can I travel?


In general, I like to see you before you fly. If you are traveling by car, you should be sure to take frequent breaks so that you don't feel too stiff when getting up. On an airplane, I like you to wear compression stockings (if within 1 month postop), and take a couple of walks during the flight. Having an aisle and bulkhead seat will help you get more space. If you are going to fly within 6 weeks of the surgery, I recomend blod thinners to prevent blood clots. Call the office for more information.




Should I be taking any medications or supplements for bone health after a partial knee replacement?


Yes, I recommend that everyone take calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone strength. Generally 1000-1500 mg of calcium citrate and 400 IU of Vitamin D are adequate. Occasionally I will also prescribe a medication to help promote bone strength.




Can I run after surgery?


I recommend minimizing high impact activities after partial knee replacement. The parts are man-made and have a finite life span. High impact activities are those where the entire body is off the ground and all your weight lands on one leg. As such, running, jumping, and even jogging are high impact while cycling, stairmaster, elliptical, golf and walking are low impact. As a general rule, I recommend limiting high impact activities so as to extend the longevity of your implant.




How long does the implant last?


All implants have a limited life expectancy that depends on several factors including a patient's weight, activity level, quality of bone stock and compliance with the doctor's orders. However, alignment and positioning are also are very important factors affecting the life expectancy of an implant. The goal of the robotic partial knee replacement is to achieve the absolute best alignment and positioning for your implant to help it last as long as possible. Most studies have demonstrated a 90% implant survival rate at 10 years.





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Andrew D. Pearle M.D

Orthopaedic Surgeon New York NY

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© 2020 Andrew Pearle MD. Orthopedic Surgeon New York NY