The Benefits of Tourniquet-less Knee Replacement Surgery

The use of a tourniquet during total knee replacement surgery is quite common. However, many patients don’t know or fully understand the risks of using a tourniquet during surgery. Traditionally, a tourniquet is used during surgery to create a bloodless surgical area and reduce intraoperative bleeding, which can reduce surgical time. There are adverse side effects to using a tourniquet that many people don’t know about, including an increase in pain. So, as a patient, it is important to understand your surgical plan and ask questions.

Risk of using a tourniquet during knee replacement surgery

  • Increased pain
  • Nerve damage
  • Ischemia (shortage of blood and oxygen to the heart)
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Blood clot
  • Poor wound healing
  • Longer recovery
  • Temporary reduction in muscle strength
  • Reduced range of motion in knee

Many of the potential side effects of a tourniquet arise post-operatively during recovery.

During knee replacement surgery, some surgeons only use a tourniquet for a brief period to control the bleeding during surgery. Since the tourniquet is not used the entire time, patients often see a reduction in swelling and bleeding around the surgical site, as well as the following benefits:

  • Reduced pain
  • Quicker recovery
  • Ability to begin physical therapy and rehabilitation quicker
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Up and walking same day as surgery