Former president Joseph Estrada has undergone a successful knee replacement surgery at a Hong Kong hospital, reports said yesterday.

Estrada was brought to the operating room of the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital around 2pm on Friday and was operated on for six hours.

Doctors operated upon Estrada's right knee first, and then the left knee.

Estrada's personal physician, Lorenzo Jocson and his US-based doctor Christopher Mow opted for a knee replacement surgery for the former president as early as two years ago after he started complaining of pain in his knee joints.

Mow supervised the operation since his license to conduct surgery in Hong Kong has yet to be released.

Estrada was operated by Dr Julienne Chang, reportedly one of the best orthopedic surgeons in Hong Kong and a good friend of Mow.

Estrada, who was granted permission by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to leave the Philippines temporarily for the surgery, is expected to return home on January 15.

Estrada spokesman Didagen Dilangalen said the former president will leave Hong Kong on January 15, unless he submits a petition for an extension before the Sandiganbayan, where he is facing charges of plunder.

It is the first time Estrada has travelled outside the Philippines since his January 2001 ouster by a military-backed uprising.

He was placed under house arrest in 2001 on charges of plundering the country of $80 million (Dh294 million) during his 30 months in office.