When someone has a joint replaced, they typically feel much better – their joint pain is greatly reduced or gone completely. Once healed, they have a new artificial joint that is usually a vast improvement over their own original joint, which had become so damaged that it was necessary to remove it and replace it with a prosthetic joint replacement.
Many people consider that replaced joint to be virtually indestructible, but that is not the case. Due to the natural stress and pressure that the body places on these joints, an artificial joint may eventually wear out and thereby require revision surgery.
Factors like age, quality of life, and level of activity are important elements which an orthopedic surgeon must consider when recommending revision joint replacement surgery to a patient. Since bones around a worn out joint replacement can be brittle to begin with, the bony foundation often needs to be further strengthened to support a new joint replacement. Once a worn out joint replacement is rebuilt, patients then work through the recovery process with physical therapy to return to living a normal and active lifestyle.
What Is Revision Surgery?
If an artificial joint begins to cause pain like the original joint did, your orthopedist may recommend revision surgery to repair or replace the damage to the artificial joint.
There are many reasons for revision surgery. An infection may have developed around the new joint, the connection between the prosthetic joint and your bones may have become loose, the joint or the ligaments can become unstable or dislocate, or part of the artificial joint itself could fail. When any of these events occur, it usually requires revision surgery to correct the problem
How Joint Revision Is Determined
Your orthopedist will first obtain diagnostic imaging of the joint replacement, usually an X-ray. These scans will show how the bones and the prosthetic materials are connecting.
While an X-ray can often allow your orthopedic surgeon to quickly ascertain the problem, sometimes the issue cannot be seen on xrays alone. In some situations, other special tests such as a bone scan or an MRI may need to be obtained, in addition to blood-work or aspirating fluid from the joint to rule-out infection. If a joint replacement has failed, either only a portion of the joint replacement could be replaced, or if needed a whole new prosthetic joint could replace the entire existing one.
When an Artificial Joint Needs to Be Fixed
If artificial joint replacement revision surgery is necessary, any bone that has eroded will need to be built back up with either bone grafts or metal augments to restore a stable foundation that can support a new joint replacement. If all of the old joint replacement pieces need to be replaced, your orthopedist will likely opt for specialized implants with longer, thicker stems that provide added support within the bone.
Experienced Orthopedic Surgeon in Raleigh
If you have had joint replacement surgery in the past but you are now experiencing problems or pain in that area, contact the office of Dr. Brett Gilbert. As a specialist in hip and knee replacement surgery, and he is skilled at using the most minimally invasive methods possible.
Call us today at (919) 788-8797 or request a consultation online. We can help you enjoy less pain and more time spent doing the things you love.