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Blood Vessel and Nerve Damage

All joints have major blood vessels and nerves which are adjacent to them. When the joints are replaced, there are specific precautions that are taken to protect these important structures. Direct damage to these structures is very rare. Usually injury is due to the necessary manipulation of a joint at the time of surgery.

Vascular Damage - This is extremely rare and is usually seen in revision surgery where prior operations have caused scarring around these vascular structures.

Nerve Damage - This can occur around the hip and knee replacement, but there is a greater risk when there is chronic deformity which has resulted from severe arthritis or prior surgeries. It is, of course, necessary to correct the deformity. However, the nerves must adjust to the new position and length of the leg. Occasionally, the nerve will stretch in this process and develop what is called a "neuropraxia," or a bruise of the nerve, and the nerve will "go to sleep." This will cause numbness and weakness in the leg, but in the majority of cases, the nerve wakes up, and function returns very rapidly. Very rarely, weakness or numbness may be permanent.

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