Knee Replacement for Elderly

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Dr Kau Chung Yuan (许医生)


MRCS (Ireland)

MMed (Ortho)

FRCSEd (Ortho)


What is Knee Replacement Surgery?

knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, refers to a procedure which involves replacing the damaged cartilage and bone within the knee with metal implants and high-grade plastic components.

This surgery helps relieve pain and restore function in patients who otherwise have difficulty walking due to various knee conditions. As it is an effective and safe procedure, it is commonly used with elderly patients, helping them regain mobility and independence.

Is Knee Replacement Surgery Suitable for Elderly Patients?

Knee replacement surgery is done very commonly for patients above 70 years old. This is because osteoarthritis and knee pain often becomes disabling for patients around this time. Many of our patients undergo knee replacement surgery in their 70s and even 80s. It is a successful operation, and patients recover when motivated with the right treatment plans.

Naturally, as we age, any procedure or surgery carries risk. This largely depends on the overall medical fitness of the patient. We have performed many surgeries for patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, or even a previous stroke. These patients have recovered well and improved their quality of life after knee replacement surgery.

Is there an age limit for a Knee Replacement?

There is no upper age limit for knee replacement surgery. What matters most is the patient’s overall health. Dr Kau is experienced in performing knee replacement surgeries, even for patients in their 70s and 80s. Such patients benefit significantly from the surgery as it relieves knee pain, improves mobility and adds to their overall quality of life.

The surgical team will advise you on any pre-evaluation tests to assess your fitness for surgery. These include blood tests, ECG, and a chest x-ray. We also have a regular team of experienced Anaesthetists who will provide advice on your risks during the surgery.


Are Your Symptoms Affecting Your Quality Of Life?

Consult our MOH-accredited orthopaedic specialist for an accurate diagnosis & personalised treatment plan today.

What anaesthesia is used for elderly patients undergoing knee replacement?

Knee replacement surgery for elderly patients is performed under General or Regional (Spinal) Anaesthesia, meaning that you will not be conscious or feel pain during the procedure. Our Anaesthetists are trained in performing regional nerve blocks. The injections are done under ultrasound guidance to place the anaesthetic close to the nerves supplying the knee. These help to alleviate pain greatly after your knee replacement, yet allow you to start walking from the first day after surgery.

What is the Recovery Period for Knee Replacement in Elderly Patients?

You will begin standing and walking within 24 hours of your surgery. We have a dedicated surgical team that optimises pain control and allows you to start early ambulation. A physiotherapist will naturally assist with your rehab, both inpatient and outpatient and set targets for your return to normal walking. Most patients are comfortable with being discharged after two to three days in the hospital.

Elderly patients may require a walking stick or frame in the first four to eight weeks following their surgery. The full recovery period for knee replacement surgery is about eight to twelve weeks.

We will tailor make a rehab plan together with your physiotherapist, and arrange regular check-ups to monitor your progress every step of the way.


What are the side effects of Knee Replacement in Elderly Patients?

While knee replacement surgery in elderly patients is a standard and relatively safe procedure, all surgeries come with several risks and complications. These may include:

  • Infection of the knee
  • Damage to nerves and blood vessels around the knee
  • Bleeding
  • Stiffness
  • Blood clots
  • Polyethylene liner wear over time and implant loosening

However, our doctors will inform you how best to care for your wound to prevent post-surgery complications. You will also be required to return for follow-up appointments to ensure that your healing is on track.


What can Elderly Patients do to Promote Recovery After Knee Replacement?

Recovery begins even before your surgery. Dr Kau will advise you on what exercises to do and avoid. He can refer you to a physiotherapist to start strengthening exercises, commonly known as pre-hab. Physiotherapy is imperative to regaining strength and mobility after knee arthroplasty. Elderly patients will find that their physiotherapy may include various stretching movements and gentle exercises to promote recovery after knee replacement surgery.


Is There An Alternative Treatment to Knee Replacement?

While there are many new modalities on the market that claim to be able to solve knee pain from osteoarthritis, these are largely unproven treatment options. Knee replacement surgery remains the gold standard for treating symptomatic and severe osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

For a small group of elderly patients who are not medically fit for surgery, Dr Kau can assist with supplements and oral medications to help control pain symptoms. Certain patients are suitable for injections into the knee joint. These can be steroid-based or hyaluronic acid injections – plate-rich plasma injections are often less ideal for severe osteoarthritis of the knees.

How much does Knee Replacement Surgery Cost in Singapore?

The professional fees for elderly knee replacement surgery can range from SGD$8,000 to SGD$12,000 at a private hospital according to MOH’s Historical Transacted Bill Sizes and Fee Benchmarks.

However, this is before considering your insurance (e.g. Integrated Shield Plans, Medishield Life) and MediSave payouts.


Dr. Kau Chung Yuan

MBBS (S’pore)

MRCS (Ireland)

MMed (Ortho)

FRCSEd (Ortho)

Dr Kau (许医生) is a Fellowship trained Orthopaedic Surgeon with a subspecialty interest in Hip and Knee surgery and has been in practice for more than 15 years.

He is experienced in trauma and fracture management, sports injuries, and joint replacement surgery.

  • Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, Orthopaedics (FRCS, Edin) 2014
  • Master of Medicine (Orthopaedics), Singapore (MMed) 2013
  • Member of the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (MRCS, Ire) 2009
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS, Singapore) 2004

Patient Feedback

Ethan Chan
Dr. Kau is an exemplary doctor who is experienced in his field and is very patient with his patients. He walked me through the details of my knee condition and addressed all my concerns. Thanks to Dr. Kau, I had a better understanding of my ACL and MCL injury and the various treatment options available. His advice and treatment have been very valuable to me.
Ming Lee Chua
Dr Kau was very careful and explained clearly the surgery procedures. After surgery, the care while I was in hospital was closely monitored and he even came during weekends! The hip so far has recovered and healed. His ‘predictions’ of when what can happen are so accurate. Trust him.
Teo Pek Suan Diana
I had a very successful total hip replacement done by Dr Kau 4 years ago. 4 months after the operation I was back walking, cycling and swimming. The beautiful job gave me much confidence Dr Kau is most professional and has such great doctor patient communication.

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