Lawsuits are being filed alleging that Exactech’s Optetrak knee replacement system is prone to failure due to tibial insert wear and tear. But how can a patient tell if their implant is failing?
Symptoms of a Failing Knee Replacement
When the prosthetic components of a total knee replacement begin to fail, certain symptoms may occur, such as:
- Mild soreness to severe pain
- Fever, chills, and muscle ache, indicating the presence of infection
- Mobility issues, including reduced range of motion and knee stiffness
- Swelling resulting from the inflammation of the lining of the knee
- Effusion, or excess fluid in the knee
- Thickened underlying tissue
- Instability due to loosening of the joint, characterized by a feeling that the knee will give out with standing or walking
- Noticeable warmth and redness of the skin around the knee
- Eczema-like rash, a sign of metal hypersensitivity
- Crystalline arthropathy, in which crystals accumulate in the knee and cause infection-like symptoms
- Bone destruction from infection or fracture
If your knee replacement fails, your doctor might advise that you undergo “revision” surgery to remove all or some of the parts of the original prosthesis and replace the with new ones. Revision surgery is different from primary total knee replacement, and is generally a longer, more complicated procedure that requires extensive planning as well as specialized implants and tools to ensure a satisfactory result.
There are different types of revision surgery. Sometimes only one component requires revision, while at other times, all three components – femoral, tibial, and patellar – need to be removed and replaced.
The bone around the knee may also need to be rebuilt with a bone graft or augments (metal pieces that substitute for the missing bone). Bone damage sometimes makes it difficult or impossible for the doctor to use standard total knee replacements for revision surgery, and specialized implants with longer, thicker stems may be required for extra support.