Joint Revision


Every year, around one million Americans have joint replacement surgery. Most are happy with the results. Artificial joint implants usually relieve the debilitating pain and can perform well for 10-20 years.

However, some people have problems with their new joint, including pain, stiffness, swelling or instability. These problems can occur soon after surgery, or they may happen years later.

If you’ve had joint replacement surgery and your pain or other symptoms have returned, you may need a second surgery. This is called total joint revision surgery.

Potential Complications

A variety of complications can occur when you have an artificial joint. These include:

  • Your implant may become loose, meaning it’s no longer firmly attached to the bone. This can occur for many reasons, including wear-and-tear. If you had joint replacement surgery at a young age, you may outlive the “shelf life” of your implant. If you take part in intense, high-impact activities, your implant can wear out more quickly than normal.
  • Medical conditions such as osteoporosis or osteolysis can cause your bone to deteriorate.
  • Bacteria may collect on your implant and cause an infection. If the infection can’t be treated with antibiotics, the infected parts may need to be replaced.
  • Ligament injuries can cause your joint to become unstable.
  • You could dislocate your new joint (this is when one of your bones “pops out” of joint).
  • You could break one of the bones attached to your artificial joint.
  • Scar tissue from your original surgery can build up and limit your range of motion.

What Happens During Joint Revision Surgery?

The goals of revision surgery are the same as your original surgery: to reduce pain and improve function. But revision surgery is usually longer and more complicated.

Your surgeon will need to remove one or more of the parts that make up your artificial joint and replace them. In some cases, your surgeon will also need to rebuild lost or damaged bone using metal or a bone graft.

Joint Revision Surgery at Mercy

We know how frustrating it can feel when things don’t turn out the way you expected. And while we can’t take away all your disappointment, we can offer some peace of mind.

Mercy’s orthopedic surgeons have valuable experience troubleshooting and treating failed implants. 

We will help uncover the cause of your symptoms and figure out what’s happening in your joint.

If you need revision surgery on your shoulder, hip or knee, we’ll make sure you understand the benefits and risks. We’ll also make sure you know what to expect during and after the procedure, including rehabilitation and recovery.

No matter what your reason for needing joint revision surgery, our goal is the same as your goal: to fix the problem so you can move on.

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