How Can Total Knee Replacement Surgery Be Affected by Diabetes?

One of the major side effects of Diabetes is the weakening of muscles and tissues hence making it harder for a diabetic patient to recover from any kind of injury. Hence, it becomes hard for diabetic patients to recover from any kind of surgery, and they become prone to many post-surgery side effects too.

People suffering from conditions like Arthritis might find it extremely difficult to walk or climb stairs, in such cases Knee Replacement Surgery can help them a great deal in making their daily life conditions much more liveable.

When it comes to knee surgery, the research relating post-surgical complications with diabetes show mixed outcomes as various reports show various contrasting results.

Like any surgery, knee replacement also has its merits and demerits, and the complications may be a tad bit more pronounced if the patient has diabetes.

In this blog, we intend to set a debate about if the results of the total knee replacement surgery can be affected by Diabetes. Is the surgery worth it?

Research that shows: Post-Surgical complications may be related to diabetes

A recent report from Duke University and another one from China’s Sichuan University showed that diabetic patients face a much more prominent possibility of inconveniences after knee surgery, particularly when their glucose levels are not in control.

As well as two studies from Korea also relate high-blood sugar levels with post-surgical complications. And according to the outcomes of these researches the people with a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c – average blood sugar) level of 8 or higher, are at higher risk of danger of infection, joint slackening, fracture around the implant, strokes, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) than compared to non-diabetic patients. People with HbA1c scores of 7 or less indicate controlled diabetes where the risks are relatively low.

Studies showing no relation between diabetes and post-surgical side effects
In 2013, The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery after reviewing 40,000 patients published that their researchers discovered no contrast between the number of complexities in diabetes patients and those for the individuals without diabetes.

They also additionally proposed that glucose levels may not be a critical factor for effective knee surgery. According to the research, the patients with uncontrolled diabetes were not prone to experience any negative side effects.

Furthermore, researchers also said that instead of diabetes, obesity can be one of the major reasons behind the failure or negative side effects of knee surgeries. According to researchers, the patients with high obesity are more prone to infection, DVT, and negative side effects than people with just diabetes.

How can Diabetes affect your knee replacement surgery?
In most cases, diabetes does affect the recovery rate of patients post-surgery as it slows the rate of incision repair. Diabetes also increases the risk of infection post-surgery along with that of many other secondary complications such as stroke, pneumonia, urinary tract infection, and intestinal issues.

Usually, in most cases, Diabetes especially Type 2 diabetes comes along with many other complications such as obesity, and according to experts this combination of obesity and diabetes can be challenging for surgeries such as knee replacement surgery. This obesity usually results in post-surgical complications such as fractures around the implant or joint loosening. But these are complications that can be very well handled by your treating surgeon. So be sure to discuss the risks, understand the merits of the surgery, and how it can improve your quality of life.

So, should you be concerned about your diabetes before Knee replacement surgery or not?
As a patient, you should ensure to mention the medications you are on before considering surgery, discuss at length both the benefits and downside of the knee replacement surgery. Make an informed decision. Understand the post-operative complications, care, recovery regime thoroughly before you commit yourself to the surgery. Once you decide to go ahead with the surgery, be sure to follow up with your surgeon and check his availability and the pre-operative care that is required such as stopping certain medications like Aspirin and being on empty stomach 5-6 hours before surgery without consuming any fluid, beverages or solid food.

How can you avoid post-surgical complications after knee surgery?
Diabetes may sound like a very complicated dangerous disease but it’s not that hard to save yourself from any side effects of diabetes as all it asks from you is to be a little more conscious towards your body. Maintain a strict diet and exercise regularly.

Maintain your HbA1c levels and be sure to check your average blood sugar levels before opting for surgery. Keep yourself fit by regularly exercising especially before the surgery, if your surgeon permits. Keep yourself in shape and stay away from obesity.
Stay away from pro-inflammatory food such as refined sugar, alcohol, gluten, saturated fats, etc. before surgery.
Include food with a high amount of antioxidants, fibre, and high anti-inflammatory powers in your diet before surgery.
Consult a good Orthopaedic Surgeon who is specialized in Replacement Surgeries and discuss any apprehensions you may have about the surgery. By discussing thoroughly with your surgeon, it will not only help you to have a low-risk surgery but also help you to recover from surgery without any complications or with very minimal complications. Conclusion: We hope we have been able to provide you with the necessary information about whether Diabetes can be a major roadblock in undergoing a total knee replacement surgery. While the research is biased and there definitely is much more scope to dive deeper into the relation between post knee surgery side effects and diabetes, if the surgery helps you improve your quality of life and makes your day to day life easier, then you must definitely consider it after discussing with your treating surgeon.

If you are suffering from any knee pain or knee related injury, you can reach out to me at Dr. Pradyumna R, Bangalore Orthopaedic Clinic, BTM layout or call at +91-9113025188.

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