Before the operation 

Choose a specialist who performs knee replacement regularly and can discuss their results with you.

This is even more important if you are having a second or subsequent knee replacement, known as revision knee replacement, which is more difficult to perform.

Your local hospital trust website will show which specialists in your area do knee replacement. Your GP may also have a recommendation, or arrange for you to follow an enhanced recovery programme.

You can also read a guide to NHS waiting times.

How can I prepare for going into hospital?

  • Get informed. Find out as much as you can about what is involved in your operation. Your hospital may provide written information or videos.
  • Arrange help. Arrange for a friend or relative to help at home for a week or two after you come out of hospital.
  • Sort out transport. Arrange for someone to take you to and from the hospital.
  • Prepare your home. Before you go for your operation, put your TV remote control, radio, telephone, medications, tissues, address book and a glass on a table next to where you will spend most of your time when you come out of hospital.
  • Stock up. Buy easy to prepare food, such as frozen ready meals, cans and staples like rice and pasta, or freeze meals and reheat them during your recovery.
  • Clean up. Before going into hospital, have a long bath or shower, cut your nails (take off any nail polish) and wash your hair. Put on freshly washed clothes. This helps prevent unwanted bacteria coming into hospital with you and complicating your care.

Things to take into hospital

  • a change of nightclothes
  • something comfortable and easy to wear
  • suitable footwear – shoes should be flat, supportive (with a back or heel strap) and with some room to allow for any swelling
  • toiletries
  • medication
  • antiseptic hand wipes and gel
  • a book, iPod and other things to help pass the time during recovery
  • important phone numbers

It is advisable not to take valuables, jewellery or large sums of money into hospital with you. Ask a friend to look after your valuables if you do not want to leave them at home.

Read more information about preparing for surgery.

How can I prepare for the operation?

Stay as active as you can. Strengthening the muscles around your knee will aid your recovery.

If you can, continue to take gentle exercise, such as walking and swimming, in the weeks and months before your operation.You can be referred to a physiotherapist, who will give you helpful exercises.

What will happen before the operation?

A couple of weeks before the operation, you will usually be asked to attend a preoperative assessment clinic to meet your surgeon and other members of the surgical team. You may be offered an enhanced recovery programme.

They will take a medical history, examine you and organise any tests (such as blood tests and urine tests), ECGs (electrocardiograms) and X-rays needed to make sure you are healthy enough for an anaesthetic and surgery.

Take a list of any medication you are taking. Some rheumatoid arthritis medications suppress the immune system, which can affect healing. For this reason, you may be asked to stop taking your medication before surgery. If you take any anticoagulants (blood thinning medication), they may also need to be stopped before surgery. Your surgeon can advise on alternative medications.

There may be leaflets, booklets and videos to look at or take away that can give you more information about the operation.

Read more information about seeing a specialist before an operation.

Leaving hospital

What is the National Joint Registry?

The National Joint Registry (NJR) collects details of knee replacements carried out in England and Wales. Although it is voluntary, it is worth registering. This enables the NJR to monitor knee replacements, so you can be identified if any problems emerge in the future.

The registry also gives you the chance to participate in a patient feedback survey.

It's confidential and you have a right under the Freedom of Information Act to see what details are kept about you.

Page last reviewed: 16/06/2014

Next review due: 16/06/2016