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Types of knee surgery explained

If you’ve been suffering from knee pain, your doctor may recommend knee surgery as a solution. From that point, it’s only natural for you to want to learn as much as possible about the procedure. Join us as we explore some of the different types of knee surgery that may be used to solve your knee problem.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction

ACL reconstruction is a surgical procedure that involves a torn ligament being removed from the knee. A tissue graft is then inserted. The surgery is performed via keyhole or minimally invasive surgery, to reduce scarring and bruising.

Who it’s for

This surgery is available to everyone but ACL injuries are most common in sportspeople. Basketball, football and tennis players are among those most at risk from an ACL injury due to the stop-start nature of their sport.

How it works

ACL reconstruction surgery is usually performed under general anaesthetic. It takes around one hour and 30 minutes. Once you’re under anaesthetic(sia?), your surgeon will perform most of the surgery using an arthroscope. The injured ACL tendon is reconstructed with tissue from elsewhere in your body. These are most often taken from either your hamstring or patella tendon.

Where it’s available

ACL reconstruction is available through the NHS or private healthcare. The statutory waiting time on the NHS is currently 18 weeks. However due to the Covid pandemic, lots of people are currently waiting longer than this.

Private knee ligament surgery is available in all our Practice Plus Group hospitals. The waiting time is normally between two to four weeks.

Private knee arthroscopy

This is the surgical reconstruction or replacement of an arthritic joint. Knee and hip replacements are the most common major orthopaedic procedures. The goals are to restore function and relieve pain.

Who it’s for

If you suffer from pain, stiffness, swelling or instability in your knee, an arthroscopy may be recommended. Injuries within the knee are usually age-related, due to sports or accidents (falling over, for example).

How it works

Knee arthroscopy (sometimes referred to as keyhole surgery) allows your surgeon to look inside your knee. They can then diagnose and treat with the required surgery.

Where it’s available

Knee arthroscopy is available privately and on the NHS. The current NHS waiting time is around 18 weeks. Private knee arthroscopy is available via Practice Plus Group. The waiting time for surgery is around two to four weeks.

Knee revision surgery

This surgical procedure involves replacing a patient’s artificial knee joint with a new one.

Who it’s for

Knee revision surgery is for people who have already had a knee replacement. It is usually necessary when their original implant has failed. Injury, wear and tear, loosening and infection are among the most common indications.

How it works

During surgery, the old implant is removed and replaced with specialised knee revision implants. The surgery takes longer than a primary knee replacement procedure.

Where it’s available

As with the procedures that have already been mentioned, knee revision surgery is available both privately and with the NHS. The current NHS waiting time is around 18 weeks but can be longer. Private knee revision surgery is available via Practice Plus Group. The waiting time for surgery is around two to four weeks.

Lateral release

In this surgical procedure, tight structures on the outer part of the kneecap are released. This eases knee pain caused by the kneecap being pulled away from its normal alignment.

Who it’s for

Lateral release is an arthroscopic procedure that realigns the kneecap. This is most often due to patella (kneecap) tilt where the kneecap is ‘tilted’ towards the outside of the leg.

How it works

Lateral patella tilt is when the kneecap is not sitting properly in the groove at the bottom of the thigh bone (femoral groove) and is tilted towards the outside (lateral) of the knee.

A lateral release procedure involves your surgeon cutting through the tissue pulling the kneecap out of position. This allows the patella to sit properly within its groove. The incision is then closed. You may be given special supports to stop the kneecap sliding out of position.

Where it’s available

Lateral release surgery is available privately and on the NHS.

Meniscus knee surgery repair

The meniscus cartilages stabilise and cushion the knee joint. Injury to the meniscus is a very common occurrence and can be sports or age-related.

Who it’s for

Meniscus surgery is for patients that have suffered a torn meniscus cartilage that has resulted in pain and instability of the knee. When a knee is unstable, it may give way or lock in a bent position.

How it works

This arthroscopic procedure may require trimming or full repair. This decision is based on the type and location of the tear. It takes about an hour, and recovery from meniscus repair surgery normally takes a few weeks. The procedure aims to reduce pain, improve mobility, and get you back enjoying everyday life.

Where it’s available

Meniscus knee surgery repair is available privately and on the NHS.

Patella resurfacing

A surgical procedure to replace the joint surface of the patella. It is usually performed as part of a total knee replacement but may be done in isolation if the joint surface damage is confined to the patella.

Who it’s for

It’s important to note that patella resurfacing is not a common procedure. In the majority of cases it isn’t needed. It’s usually for patients that have isolated arthritis of the kneecap, or part of a total knee replacement procedure.

How it works

Patella resurfacing is a procedure in which the worn-out surface of the kneecap is repaired with a prosthesis. Sometimes, tissue around the kneecap is removed down to the level of the quadriceps and patella tendons.

Where it’s available

Patella resurfacing surgery is available privately and on the NHS.

Therapeutic injection for joint pain relief

Injections are a fast and easy method of easing joint pain and inflammation in the knee caused by arthritis/osteoarthritis.

Who it’s for

Injections may be suitable for patients suffering from joint pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.

How it works

Depending on the type of pain and the location, different injections may be recommended.. The effects typically last between 6 weeks to 6 months.

Where it’s available

Therapeutic injections for pain relief are available privately and on the NHS.

Total knee replacement

Total knee replacement surgery involves replacing diseased or damaged joint surfaces in the knee with metal and plastic components shaped to allow continued motion of the knee.

Who it’s for

Total knee replacement surgery is for people whose knees are severely damaged by arthritis or sporting injuries. It’s suitable for those that find it difficult to perform simple activities like walking or climbing stairs or those that suffer from pain and stiffness.

How it works

During the procedure, the damaged cartilage is removed and replaced with metal implants. These are often cemented into the bone. A plastic spacer is then inserted between the metal components to create a smooth surface.

Where it’s available

Private knee replacement surgery is available through Practice Plus Group. The procedure is also available on the NHS but waiting times are likely to be much longer.

Partial knee replacement

Partial knee replacement surgery involves replacing only the diseased or damaged joint surfaces in the knee with metal and plastic components. These are shaped to allow continued motion of the knee.

Who it’s for

Partial knee replacement surgery may be suitable for some people suffering from osteoarthritis that is restricted to one part of the knee.

How it works

Although similar to a total knee replacement, this procedure doesn’t interfere with healthy cartilage or bone. Instead, the implant only replaces damaged parts of the knee.

The recovery period lasts around three to six weeks.

Where it’s available

Partial knee replacement surgery is available through Practice Plus Group. The procedure is also available on the NHS but waiting times are likely to be much longer.


Enquire now about private knee surgery


How knee surgery works

Once you know you require knee surgery, you’ll need to decide whether you want to pay for your treatment or use the NHS. If you choose to pay for yourself with Practice Plus Group, the next step is a private knee consultation.

You’ll meet your dedicated orthopaedic surgeon and anaesthetist for a pre-assessment appointment. This may include x-rays and MRI scans of the affected knee. This is your opportunity to ask questions and prepare yourself for the procedure, so fire away. Once the clinician has assessed you, you’ll be given a date for surgery.

You’ll be given either a general or spinal anaesthesia. This will be discussed with you by your anaesthetist. During the surgery itself, the worn ends of the bones in your knee joint are removed and replaced with metal and plastic parts.

At Practice Plus Group, we follow the Enhanced Recovery Pathway (ERP). This is a modern, evidence-based approach that helps people speed up their recovery following major surgery. The ERP champions the many advantages of day surgery knee replacement. With this support you will be mobile enough to go home either on the day of surgery, or soon after.

How to know if you need knee surgery

Even if you’ve been suffering with knee pain for a while, it can be difficult to know if you need a knee replacement. The following are signs you need a knee replacement:

  • Severe pain (that stops you from carrying out everyday chores)
  • Swelling around the knee
  • Stiffness around the knee
  • Reduced mobility

How successful is knee surgery?

According to an NHS survey from 2020, 75% of patients said they felt a lot better following their operation. 15% reported feeling a little better, while just 5% said they felt worse. If you have any doubts or questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your orthopaedic surgeon.

Risks and complications of knee surgery

As with any major operation, knee surgery carries risks. For example, there can be side effects of confusion and sickness from the anaesthesia. On occasion, there can also be complications after the operation involving blood supply. A very small number of patients have developed blood clots in their legs or lungs.

Other complications can include infection, ligament damage and dislocation. In a very small number of cases, nerve damage may be a factor. This often leads to pain in the shin bone.

Knee surgery recovery time

Recovery time will depend on the type of surgery you’ve had and how old you are. However, for everyone there is a specific list of do’s and don’ts to follow after surgery.

Do:

  • Walk when it’s safe to do so
  • Strengthen your knee with exercises given to you by your doctor
  • Follow the advice of your doctor

A few weeks after your operation, your doctor may suggest including exercises into your recovery. Cycling after a knee replacement is often recommended.

Don’t:

  • Try to do too much too early
  • Participate in sports with a high risk of falling (i.e. football, rugby, mountain biking etc)
  • Drive straight after the operation. You won’t be able to drive until you can fully bend your knee

Arthroscopic knee surgery recovery time

The recovery time for arthroscopic knee surgery depends entirely on the patient. Age plays a big part, as well as completion of the exercises set by the doctor. An operated knee can take up to two years to fully heal following surgery.

Knee cartilage surgery recovery time

The recovery time for knee cartilage surgery depends entirely on the patient. Age plays a big part, along with completion of the exercises set by the doctor. An operated knee can take up to two years to fully heal following surgery.

After knee surgery care

As mentioned previously, every patient will recover at different rates. However, there are still some things you can do to help speed up the process:

  • Walk frequently (when permitted by your doctor)
  • Follow your doctor or physiotherapist’s exercises and advice
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Private knee surgery costs in the UK

The cost of private knee surgery depends on a number of factors. These include the location of the hospital, the type of surgery, and the chosen healthcare provider. As a ballpark figure, you can expect to pay anything from £5,000-15,000 for your knee surgery.

The cost of knee surgery at Practice Plus Group

For knee replacement surgery with Practice Plus Group, you can expect to pay £11,200, plus £95 for the initial consultation. As of 2022, this is cheaper than our nearest competitors.

Your knee surgery questions answered

Not quite found the information you’re looking for? Our FAQs might be able to help!

What is the most common knee surgery?

Total knee replacement is the most common type of knee surgery. The two main causes are Injury and arthritis. With the UK’s ageing population, the number of total knee replacements is expected to increase.

How can you get a knee replacement privately?

Knee replacement surgery is available at most (if not all) private healthcare providers. To enquire about knee surgery with Practice Plus Group, please book an appointment.

How long is the wait for private knee surgery?

The waiting time for private knee surgery is around two to four weeks from your initial consultation.

How long does a knee operation take?

This depends on the type of knee operation. Most knee surgeries take between 1-3 hours.

Is knee surgery very painful?

No. The operation itself isn’t painful as you’ll be under anaesthetic. Some pain and discomfort is likely in the hours and days after the operation. However this is usually managed with prescribed pain relief and exercise.

How do I prepare for knee surgery?

If you have a date for your surgery, you should start to prepare right away. Removing hazards from your home (loose rugs and cables) to prevent falling, placing items within reach, and clearing space for walking with crutches, are all good ideas for preparation.

You might also consider strengthening and conditioning your body prior to surgery. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces the amount of stress that will be put on the knee joint post-op.

How do I find private knee surgery near me?

The internet is a great resource here. It allows you to shop around and weigh up the pros and cons of different healthcare providers.

For those that don’t have access to the internet, private healthcare can be accessed via a referral from your GP.


Enquire now about private knee surgery


 

Knee surgery is available at the following hospitals and surgical centres:

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