Partial Knee Replacement

A summary of the partial knee replacement procedure and patient recovery

Before and After Partial Knee ReplacementIt has been shown that loss of mobility caused by conditions such as arthritis, on average, reduces the sufferer's life expectancy by ten years. The knee replacement has been one of medicines great triumphs in that it has the potential to return patients their mobility, thereby lengthening and improving their quality of life.

Knee replacements are generally either total knee replacements (TKR) or partial knee replacements, often refered to as unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA). These are both recognised treatments of osteoarthiritis in the knee joint.

Features and benefits of partial knee replacement

The unicompartmental knee arthroplasty is far less invasive than the total kneeComparison of a Partial Knee Replacement, and a Total Knee Replacement replacement, in that the incision is 3 inches along the side of the knee, in comparison to an 8 inch incision in the TKR procedure. In addition there is much less blood loss and associated bone removal.The benefits this brings are great, such as a reduced stay in hospital and less time until functional recovery of the knee joint. It is not uncommon for patients to be discharged from the hospital on the same day as the operation.

Partial knee surgery is recommended to patients who:

  1. Are at least 55 years old
  2. Are not overly active
  3. Are not overweight
  4. Have intact knee ligaments, most notably the anterior cruciate ligament.

Unfortunately, most patients who seek surgery already have arthritis that is too far advanced throughout the knee for the minimally invasive partial knee replacement procedure. If the partial knee replacement procedure is performed on a patient who is a poor candidate, failure rates can be high, and conversion to a traditional total knee replacement through revision surgery may be more difficult.

Durability and longevity of the partial knee replacement

When patients with a partial knee replacement are properly selected, the preferable procedure generally does very well, although some patients can continue to develop arthritis in other areas of the knee. In addition, unicompartmental knee implants can wear out, or may come loose within the knee. This can be down to a poorly fitted replacement due to a surgeon not being entirely familiar with the implant (as they can vary), or due to general wear of the materials in subsequent years. Both of these situations would require additional surgery, and possibly the conversion to a total knee replacement through revision surgery.

Always discuss with your doctor the risks of this minimally invasive surgery or any other procedure, prior to your operation.