Total Joint Replacement

What is total joint replacement?

Total joint replacement is a procedure that removes or replaces a damaged joint with an artificial one, called a prosthesis. A joint is formed by the ends of two or more bones that are connected by thick tissues. The bone ends of a joint are covered with a smooth layer called cartilage. Normal cartilage allows for frictionless and painless movement. The joints become stiff and painful when cartilage is destroyed from disease or arthritis.The goal of total joint replacement is to relieve pain in the join that is caused by damage done to the cartilage.

How is total joint replacement performed?

Patients are given an anesthetic and the surgeon replaces the damaged parts of the joint. The materials used in a total joint replacement are designed to enable the joint to move like a normal joint. For example, in an arthritic knee the cartilage and damaged ends of the bones are replaced with metal and plastic surfaces that restore normal movement in the knee joint.

Knee and hip replacements are the most common joints replaced, but this surgery can be performed on other joints including ankle, foot, shoulder, elbow, and fingers.

The prosthesis is generally composed of two materials: a metal piece that matches and fits closely into a plastic piece. Several metals are used and a plastic bone cement may be used to anchor the prosthesis into the bone.