Before you go home after your total knee-joint replacement, the orthopedics doctor will review with you how to be aware of any problems with your knee. You'll get a follow-up appointment to see your doctor a few days after your surgery. Between your discharge and your appointment, you need to watch for issues in your knee that may require you to see the doctor sooner. Here is how to catch problems before they become serious heath issues.
Why Problems Happen After Surgery
Total knee replacement is a major procedure requiring a large portion of your knee to be exposed as the surgeon works on it. The medical personnel continually watch for any potential contamination of the surgical site and frequently bathe the area with an antibiotic solution. But on a rare occasion, an infection does occur after surgery. An estimated one percent of the people who have joint-replacement surgery develop an infection.
Other health issues and conditions can make you more prone to an infection, such as:
- circulatory problems
- being overweight
- being on medications that suppress your immune system
These are all reasons to pay close attention to your knee after you get home.
Monitoring Your Knee
Find a well-lit place with no drafts to stir things up in the air to inspect your knee in.
- Have fresh bandages and tape available.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Carefully remove the old bandage so it doesn't pull on the sutures.
- Look for the following signs that there may be an infection in the incision:
- a foul smell from the bandage
- yellow or green fluid on the bandage
- redness, warmth, and swelling around the incision
- fluid drainage from the incision
- loose or broken sutures or staples
- Replace the bandage with a clean one and secure it with tape.
- Contact your doctor if you saw any of the signs of infection.
Other Signs of an Infection
If an infection occurs deep in the knee joint, you'll have symptoms before you see signs at the incisions. These symptoms include:
- feelings of fatigue
- an elevated temperature
- chills and sweating at night
Since it's hard to distinguish between a simple flu and a knee infection from these symptoms, take the safe approach and contact your doctor if you experience any of them.
The Dangers of a Knee Infection After Surgery
Any infection in your knee will slow down healing and make it unlikely that the incision will close properly. If the infection is near the skin surface, the doctor will need to clean out the wound and reseal the edges of the skin to minimize scarring.
If the infection is inside of the knee joint, you may have to go back into surgery to have the knee cleaned out of any infection. The surgeon may need to leave the incision open for a few days until any drainage stops. This would mean another major surgery and a few days in the hospital.
To to a professional at an organization like Family Medical Clinic for more information about this procedure.