Complications of knee surgery

Complications from knee surgery range from minor problems such as delayed wound healing to more serious problems such as deep infection, wound breakdown, nerve injury, blood clots (thrombosis), embolus, pain and death. Surgeons will do everything in their power to reduce the rate of complications such as using drugs to thin the blood or foot pumps to prevent clots and antibiotics to prevent infection. All major orthopaedic surgery should also be performed in ultra-clean air flow theatres to reduce the rate of infection.

However, despite the best efforts of the patient, the surgeon and the nursing staff, complications sometimes do occur. The vast majority of complications are not due to anything the surgeon has, or hasn’t, done but rather are recognised risks that surgery carries with it. The patient has a right to be aware of these risks and a responsible surgeon will discuss these risks fully with the patient prior to the patient consenting for surgery to be performed. If the patient feels the risks are unacceptable then they should refuse the surgery. A patient should not consent to surgery unless the surgeon is willing to discuss the risks to the patient’s satisfaction.

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