Orthopaedic / Total Knee Replacement

What Muscles are Cut During Total Knee Replacement?

What Muscles are Cut During Total Knee Replacement?
by admin
27th January 2023
5 minutes read

The muscles around your knee joint play a vital role in your life. They move in response to activities that involve bending, stretching and rotating your knee joint (walking, running, stretching your legs, etc.). Total knee replacement surgery requires a cut through the muscle known as the quadriceps to get a clear view of your knee joint. This muscle is present in front of your thigh and contributes significantly to the strength of your knee.

What is a Total Knee Replacement?

Total knee replacement, also known as total knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace the damaged parts of the knee joint with artificial implants. The artificial joint is composed of plastic and metal pieces used to cap the ends of the bones that form the knee joint. This surgery is generally recommended for severe knee joint pain or stiffness. The pain or discomfort is usually caused due to damage to the tissue (cartilage) that is present between the two bones of your knee joint. This cartilage, when damaged, causes the bones to rub against one another, leading to pain and discomfort in the knee joint. The most common bone disorders that damage the cartilage tissue are:

  • Osteoarthritis (the most common bone disorder)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (damage to the cartilage tissue by the body’s immune system)
  • Post-traumatic arthritis (damage to the cartilage tissue caused due to a severe knee injury) 

What is the Knee Joint Made up of? 

The knee joint is formed by 3 bones:

  • Femur: The lower end of the thigh bone 
  • Tibia: The upper end of the shin bone
  • Patella: the Kneecap

The ends of these bones are covered with tissue known as cartilage. This tissue allows the bones to glide easily against one another as they move. Two muscles support your knee:

  • Hamstrings: These muscles are present on the back of your thigh and run from the hip to just below your knee. Their main function is to bend your knee.
  • Quadriceps: These are four muscles that are present on the front of your thigh. They run from the hip to your knee, and their main function is to straighten your knee from a bent position. 

Which Muscles Are Cut During Total Knee Replacement? 

Total knee replacement surgery to relieve knee pain and improve the quality of life is performed by a traditional or minimally invasive approach. The decision to cut the muscles or perform the surgery sparing the muscles depends entirely on the surgeon’s approach. The quadriceps muscles are the ones that the surgeon cuts while performing a traditional surgery.

Traditional Approach

  • Your Orthopedic Surgeon will make an incision of 8 to 12 inches down the middle of your knee. Then the quadriceps muscles that are present in front of your thigh are cut. The surgeon also cuts the quad tendon and other soft tissues. The quad tendon is responsible for attaching the four quadriceps muscles to your kneecap.
  • Once the muscles are cut, the kneecap will be turned over by 180 degrees to obtain a clear view of the knee joint. 
  • The damaged parts of the knee joint will be then removed and replaced with an artificial implants.

Minimally Invasive Approach (Muscle sparing surgery) 

  • Your doctor will make a tiny incision of 3 to 6 inches. In this approach, the quadriceps muscles will be pushed out of the way and not cut. 
  • The kneecap will then be pushed aside. The rest of the procedure will be similar to the traditional approach. 

Both approaches differ in the incision length and sparing/cutting of the quadriceps muscles. The minimally invasive approach also allows for an easier post-surgical recovery, a shorter hospital stay, and less blood loss. However, data shows that this strategy is no better than the traditional one in the long run. The minimally invasive technique could be difficult and comes with a few challenges:

  • Your surgeon will have a limited view of the knee joint because of a smaller incision. 
  • Since this technique will involve your knee cap being pushed away from the site rather than being rotated by 180 degrees, it could again result in a limited view of your knee joint.
  • This technique requires advanced surgical training.


Total knee replacement improves the quality of life for patients who suffer from severe knee pain and immobility. About 90% of the people who have undergone TKR surgery, experience a significant reduction in pain and are leading an active and healthy lifestyle. We recognize that having surgery may be challenging. Contact us at Medfin for any queries regarding total knee replacement. Think surgery, think Medfin! 

Click To Know More About Cost Of Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Disclaimer: The content on this site is the copyright of Medfin and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. This should not be considered as a substitute for medical and surgical expertise. Results from any treatments or surgeries are subjective to an individual patient and the type of procedure/surgery performed. Please seek professional help regarding any medical concerns. Medfin will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.