Traditional Versus Minimally Invasive Surgery

One factor that can affect your recovery time is the type of total knee replacement surgery you have. In traditional knee replacement, the surgeon typically makes an 8- to 10-inch incision over your knee. In a newer technique called minimally invasive knee replacement, the surgeon makes smaller incision, usually 4–6 inches, and may use techniques for accessing the knee joint that avoid cutting key muscles and tendons. In many cases, minimally invasive knee replacement requires a shorter hospital stay and less recovery time overall.

If you are considering total knee replacement, discuss the different options with your surgeon. Minimally invasive surgery isn’t for everyone — people who are obese or at high risk for surgical complications typically are not considered good candidates. And because it is a relatively new procedure, it isn’t yet clear whether artificial joints implanted through minimally invasive techniques are as reliable as joints implanted through traditional techniques.

If you are considering minimally invasive surgery, discuss the pros and cons with your surgeon — and ask about his or her experience with the technique. The risk of complications is lower when the procedure is done by an experienced surgeon.