Total Knee Replacement - CVM - Veterinary Clinical Sciences, University of Minnesota
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  Home > Department Sections > Surgery > VCS Surgical Research Laboratory > Orthopedic Topics > Total Joint Replacement > Total Knee Replacement
 

Total Knee Replacement

Frequently asked questions:

What is total knee replacement?
Why might my dog need total knee replacement?
Where is total knee replacement available?
What are the risks of total knee replacement?
What happens during surgery?
What follow-up care will I expect after surgery?
How much does total knee replacement cost?
Can I learn more about a specific case using this procedure?
How do I make an appointment for consultation?

What is total knee replacement?
Total knee replacement is a surgical technique where the stifle (knee) joint of the patient is repaired, usually by cutting the damaged part of the bones in the joint and replacing them with a metal or plastic implant that is custom-fit to the patient. 

Why might my dog need total knee replacement?
Total knee replacement may be necessary due to advanced osteoarthritis or traumatic injury leading to loss of mobility and high levels of pain resulting in a deteriorated quality of life for the dog.  Before total knee replacement is advised, all options must be considered, from nonsurgical management involving medication and lifestyle changes, to amputation (in rare cases) or arthrodesis (a surgery that fuses the joint to relieve pain, but results in lack of joint motion) of the affected joint.  An exam by a board-certified veterinary surgeon will provide a thorough physical, diagnostic, and radiographic evaluation to help you make a decision that will best serve your dog’s health.

Where is total knee replacement available?
Total knee replacement is available only at a few veterinary hospitals in the country; the University of Minnesota is fortunate to have Dr. Conzemius and Dr. Pluhar, both highly trained surgeons in this procedure, and is optimistic that they can help your dog.

What are the risks of total knee replacement?
As with all surgeries, this procedure is not without risk, and your expectations must be reasonable.  The risks of anesthetic complications are low, but not 0%.  Additional revision surgeries may be necessary, and there is a possibility the knee may need arthrodesis or even amputation (in rare cases) of the leg in order to save the dog’s life.

What happens during surgery?
The total knee replacement patient is placed under continually monitored general inhalation anesthesia for the 2-hour surgical procedure. A vertical incision about 8-10 inches long is made on the knee to access the joint.  Damaged articular cartilage and joint surfaces are then removed and a prosthetic implant (made of plastic, metal, or both) is inserted into the bones.  The joint is then re-articulated and the incision closed.

How long will my dog be in the hospital?
The length of stay for your dog is variable, but discharge is typically within 48 hours after surgery.  When the dog is walking comfortably and eating well – signs that the initial post-surgical pain is under control - the dog can continue its recovery in the comfort of their own home.

What follow-up care will I expect after the surgery?
We expect follow-up visits (at the UM or your veterinarian with the information forwarded to us) throughout the first year, including radiographs, data gathering, and video imaging likely as part of the exam.  Rehabilitation will begin while your dog is in the hospital, and post-operative physical therapy after release from the hospital may be necessary.   Typical treatments include stretches and joint mobilizations to restore flexibility, decrease swelling and promote healing.  They also serve to restore and strengthen muscle tissues.  Fees are associated with the follow-up exams and physical therapies.  Click here for Total Knee Replacement Post-Op Care instructions.

How much does total knee replacement  surgery cost?
Every case is unique and requires careful evaluation before an estimate can be given.  However, total knee replacement cases typically cost in the range of $5000, but can run higher if additional surgery becomes necessary.

Can I learn more about a specific case using this procedure?
You can read a summary of a recent total knee replacement case by clicking here.

How do I make an appointment for consultation?
You can make an appointment by calling the Small Animal Hospital at the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Medical Center at 1-800-626-VETS (8387).  Ask for an orthopedic surgical consultation appointment with Dr. Conzemius or Dr. Pluhar.



 
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