Skip Navigation


Computer-Assisted Total Knee Replacement

The knee is the largest joint in the human body. It also is the strongest. The bottom ends of the femur or thigh bone and the top ends of the tibia or shin bone are covered with cartilage and cushioning, allowing for motion, support, and flexibility. Working properly, the knee joint slides smoothly.

A knee with congenital conditions, sports injuries, wear and tear and arthritis can cause tremendous pain, even lack of sleep and inability to walk. A total knee replacement is one means to replace that damaged joint by resurfacing the bone ends of the thigh and shin bone, capping them each with metal pieces and placing plastic in between to ensure support, flexibility and motion, without the pain.

Computer-assisted total knee replacement surgery allows the physician an additional measure of care by providing alignment of the knee joint with the bones and with the body, which will allow the joint to work better and last longer.

Total knee replacement surgery is for patients who have extreme knee pain and disabilities caused by congenital defects, trauma, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Either through trauma or degeneration, cartilage may have worn away where the patient’s thigh and shin bones rub directly against each other. Total knee replacement patients have already tried the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone injections, physician therapy and possible less invasive surgeries to relieve their discomfort.

Request a total knee replacement appointment online

To prepare for total knee replacement surgery, in addition of medical history and physical exam, additional scanning may be needed such as bone scans or MRIs or CTs.

Numerous designs of knee joints are available and the design chosen by the patient and the physician will depend on the patient’s age, weight, activity, health and condition. The patient may choose general anesthesia or a more localized version.

During total knee replacement surgery, the physician trims off about one third of an inch of the ends of the thigh bone and then cements a curved metal femoral component that covers the end of the thigh bone. About a third of an inch of the shin bone is trimmed away at the top and replaced with a flat and stemmed tibial plate that is cemented onto the top of the shin bone. The plate has a polyethylene cushion that allows for movement. Another piece replaces the patella or kneecap.

The metal pieces are typically titanium- or cobalt chromium-based alloys. These replacement joints have a 95% chance of lasting 10 to 20 years or more. Before and during surgery, the physician uses the computer to take measurements that guide the size, design and placement of the knee joint.

Request a total knee replacement appointment online

Just as important as the surgery is the process is rehabilitation. As soon as possible, patients are encouraged to get up and walk. Physical therapy starts right away. Total knee replacement patients are cared for by physicians, physical therapists, nurses and staff who all have special training in joint replacement care. In addition to the high volume of hip and knee replacements, resurfacings, repairs and preservations, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center also does research and trains future surgeons.


Quick Reference

Orthopaedic Services

New Patients 336-716-WAKE
Toll-Free 888-716-WAKE
Returning Patients
Returning Pediatric Patients

Contact the Department

Main 336-716-8200
Fax 336-716-8018

For assistance after hours, please call 336-716-2011 and ask for the Orthopaedic Surgeon on call.
Find a Doctor Ways to Give


Orthopaedic Services & Care

Receive nationally recognized treatment for both routine & complex conditions with orthopaedic services provided by Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem.

Last Updated: 10-14-2016
Wake Forest Baptist Ranked among Nation’s ‘Best Hospitals’  26 Years in a Row by U.S. News & World ReportComprehensive Cancer Centers National Designation is Renewed2017-2018 Best DoctorsNursing Magnet StatusJoint Commission Report

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

© Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157. All Rights Reserved.