Total knee replacement

What is a total knee replacement?

Also known as arthroplasty, the knee replacement procedure involves replacing damaged cartilage and bone with prosthetic components. Prosthetic components used in knee replacement are made from a range of materials including metal, ceramic, and plastic. New technological advances in surgery mean that the procedure has good long-term results.

Do I need it?

Knee replacements are often performed for severe pain and disability due to the following reasons:

  • Osteoarthritis
    One of the most common reasons for choosing a total knee replacement is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, causes the cartilage that surrounds the bone to wear away, decreasing the protective space between the bones. This causes stiffness, swelling and pain, and is most common in people over the age of 50.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
    Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that affects joints in various parts of the body including the hands, wrists, knees and shoulders. The disease causes the lining of the joints to swell, causing pain deformity and stiffness.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis
    Post-traumatic arthritis occurs after an injury, such as a dislocation or fracture.

How does it work?

When performing knee replacement surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will remove the damaged part of the knee, and replace them with prosthetic pieces. The prosthetic components will be attached to your bone with surgical cement. During the procedure, the end of the femur is removed and replaced with a metal piece, while the tibia is replaced with a stem constructed from plastic and metal. In some cases, the posterior cruciate ligament is removed.

What do I need to know?

Before the surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will conduct a thorough physical examination, and he may advice that you see a physiotherapist to discuss a rehabilitation plan.

When considering knee replacement surgery, bear in mind the following:

  • You need to see a physiotherapist after your surgery to ensure you are aware of any limitations or precautions you will need to take.
  • Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection after the surgery.
  • Your doctor will prescribe pain medication after the procedure.
  • It will take some time for you to become fully mobile after your surgery– it is important to take time to heal properly. Your recovery time will depend on your condition.


Dr Gabriel Pirjol is based at St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban and also consults and operates from Gateway Hospital in Umhlanga, Westville Hospital and Malvern Medicross.


Telephone : +27 31 202 5463

Email :

Address : Suite 24 Chelmsford Medical Centre
St Augustine's Hospital
107 J B Marks Road
Berea, 4001