Knee arthrodesis is surgery to fuse the thigh bone to the lower leg bone at the knee. The knee will no longer be able to bend after this surgery.
This surgery is done to ease pain and improve function in people who have not been helped by other methods. It may also be done after a failed knee replacement or in people with damage from joint infections.
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Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
An incision will be made over the knee. A small amount of bone from the ends of the thigh bone and top of the lower leg bone will be removed. Other knee joint structures like cartilage and ligaments or knee replacements will be removed. The ends of the bones will be joined, usually with a bone graft. Metal plates will be screwed into the joined bones.
The incision will be closed. A bandage may be placed over the incision.
About 2 hours
Pain and swelling are common in the first 1 to 2 weeks. Medicine and home care can help.
You may be able to go home in 3 to 4 days. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.
After the procedure, the staff may:
It will take a few weeks for the incisions to heal. Full recovery can take 3 months. Physical activity will need to be limited at first. You will need to ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
The Arthritis Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Bratzler DW, Dellinger EP, et al; American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Infectious Disease Society of America, Surgical Infection Society, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. Clinical practice guidelines for antimicrobial prophylaxis in surgery. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2013 Feb 1;70(3):195-283.
Surgical site infection-prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/surgical-site-infection-prevention. Updated November 4, 2019. Accessed July 17, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 4/9/21