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What are the risks?

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks. Let's review each potential complication in more detail.

Injuries to the large nerves or blood vessels around your knee:

  • Very uncommon - occurs less than 1% of the time
  • Can result in permanent injury


Infection is one of the most severe complications after knee arthroplasty, though it is uncommon (it occurs approximately 0.5% to 1.5% of the time)

  • Can occur around the time of surgery or many years after the surgery
  • The treatment is complex but the incidence is quite low
  • We recommend taking antibiotics by mouth for dental work or urologic procedures if you have a joint replacement

Blood clots:

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot in your legs
  • Pulmonary Embolism can occur when a blood clot travels to your lungs
  • Patients who undergo a hip arthroplasty are at increased risk, however pulmonary embolism typically occurs only in about 1%-3% of patients
  • Death from a pulmonary embolism can occur in 1 or 2 patients out of 1,000 after hip replacement
  • All patients typically take medication after surgery to help reduce the likelihood of blood clot formation. Discuss these medications with your surgeon
  • Most of the increased risk for blood clot in the legs or to the lungs is in the first 6 weeks after surgery

Persistent pain:

Up to 12% to 15% of patients with a knee replacement may experience persistent pain.


  • Occasionally stiffness can be a problem after knee arthroplasty
  • 1% to 3% of patients may require a knee manipulation to break up scar tissue around the knee and stretch it out


2% to 3% of patients will continue to limp after knee arthroplasty.

Wear or loosening of the pieces over time

  • Up to 85% of patients will have their knee replacement functioning after 15 years
  • Some arthroplasties will fail sooner than we would like 
  • Even if your knee arthroplasties wear or become loose, there is good potential for repairing the joint and having good function after the repair