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Knee surgery

We ask a lot of our knees. They flex and pivot to give us a wide range of motion, act as shock absorbers, and bend countless times in our lifetime to carry us where we want to go.

The knee is our body’s largest joint and it’s also one of the most complex, which makes it susceptible to injury. If your knee hurts or has been injured, conservative treatment such as medication or physical therapy is often recommended as a first step. If conservative treatment isn’t an option or no longer offers relief, your doctor may advise surgery to help you regain movement.


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Good for treating

  • Arthritis
  • Fractures
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries
  • Dislocation
  • Meniscal tears

What to expect

Once you’ve made the decision to have surgery, your doctor and his or her supporting staff will ensure you are well-prepared for the upcoming procedure. You’ll receive instructions on how to prepare for the operation, learn what to expect in the hospital or surgery center, and get helpful information on how to plan for recovery at home. You are strongly encouraged to attend a preoperative class.

Throughout the process you’ll have access to a wide spectrum of pre- and post-surgery services, and support from our compassionate caregivers every step of the way.

Good to know

The experienced orthopedic surgeons at Allina Health have performed thousands of knee surgeries, and work in close partnership with staff at our hospitals and surgery centers.  Allina Health hospitals and outpatient surgery centers observe the highest standards of quality and best practices.

What it is

When one or more parts of the knee fail, surgery by an experienced Allina Health orthopedic surgeon can restore mobility and reduce pain.


In arthroscopy, your surgeon makes tiny incisions to insert a camera and guide special instruments to view, assess and sometimes repair damage in the knee. It is a minimally invasive kind of surgery that can be used to diagnose or repair a torn meniscus (cartilage), misaligned patella (kneecap) or injured ligament.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair

A common knee injury is a torn ACL. If the ACL is torn, some people are able to resume normal activities without surgical intervention. If surgery is recommended, a new ACL is reconstructed using other healthy tissue.

Total knee replacement

A total knee replacement may be recommended if your knee has been damaged by trauma or disease. Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for this surgery. In a total knee replacement, the entire knee joint is replaced with artificial material.

Partial knee replacement

In this procedure, only the damaged component of the knee is replaced. Unaffected knee ligaments and cartilage are left. There are fewer complications with a partial versus a total knee replacement, but partial replacements have a higher rate of revision (surgery redo). You and your doctor will talk about which option is right for you.

Knee fracture surgery

The patella (kneecap) can break from a fall or direct blow. The broken pieces can sometimes be reconnected with pins, screws or wire in surgery. If the broken pieces are too small or damaged to fix, they are removed.

Meniscus tear repair

The meniscus is cartilage in the knee joint that acts as a shock absorber between the bones. Sudden injury or degeneration over time may tear the cartilage. Your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery to trim or repair the tear.  

Patellar tendon repair

The patellar tendon connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone). It can tear, or rupture, during a sudden, explosive movement. If the tendon completely ruptures, a surgeon can suture the torn tendon.

Related links

Reviewed by: Katie Lorenzen, RN, BSN, ONC, orthopedic nurse clinician

First published: 5/31/2018
Last reviewed: