Expert Health Articles

Orthopedic Revision

Stanislaw Dajczak, MDStanislaw Dajczak, MD

Blanchard Valley Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, Orthopedic Surgeon/Revisionist

For many people, receiving a joint replacement can add life to their years. Aching joints, specifically knees and hips, can cause pain and hinder mobility – leading to missed opportunities to enjoy activities that were previously part of daily life. However, for some, a joint replacement may not be a lifelong solution to pain-free hips or knees. Sometimes, situations occur that can cause a joint replacement to need replaced. This is called an orthopedic revision.   

Orthopedic revisions are sometimes necessary when a previously implanted prosthetic joint causes discomfort or pain. This can be the result of loosening or instability in the mechanics of the implant, misalignment or possibly infection. Lifestyle factors affecting the wear and tear of the joint replacement, as well as the manufactured lifespan of the implant can contribute to the necessity of a revision.

An experienced orthopedic surgeon can recognize when a previously replaced joint has failed and must be revised. Through in-depth patient discussions, imaging (X-ray, CT scans, MRI) and blood work, the surgeon can determine if revision is needed. He or she can troubleshoot issues to detect if the implant is to blame. In some cases, muscle strengthening through physical therapy may help to improve the functionality of the joint to avoid surgery. Medication can sometimes be used as well.

When orthopedic revision is needed, the surgeon can either repair or replace the implant utilizing the most up-to-date devices and surgical techniques available. However, revision surgery should not be taken lightly. Often times this procedure is far more complicated than the original joint replacement due to removing the original implant and determining the best process for connecting the new prosthetic to the remaining bone. These surgeries can often take longer than the initial joint replacement. In addition, follow-up care mirroring that of the original joint replacement will be needed including rehabilitation and rest.

You can help your joint replacement last longer by maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, keeping muscles and balance skills strong, managing diabetes, and ensuring you receive appropriate amounts of Vitamin D to keep osteoporosis at bay. However, if you are having concerns about your joint replacement, a skilled orthopedic surgeon may be able to help.

When attending your appointment, be sure to bring any old films of your joint and the operative note from your medical record. This will greatly assist us in learning about your joint replacement. The operative note can be obtained by calling the medical records department at the hospital where your procedure was conducted.