Many people aren’t aware that partial knee replacements are available and could be an option for them. The goal of any knee replacement surgery is to decrease pain and restore function. Patients with arthritis that is limited to just one part of the knee may be candidates for unicompartmental knee replacement (also called a “partial” knee replacement).
A partial replacement is most frequently done for the medial compartment arthritis (inner side of knee) but may be done for the knee cap area or the lateral side of the knee.
Multiple studies have shown that modern unicompartmental knee replacement performs very well in the vast majority of patients who are appropriate candidates. About 10 to15 percent of my knee replacement patients are able to have partial knee replacements. To qualify, these patients must have good range of motion, arthritis only in one part of the knee and have intact ligaments.
The advantages of partial knee replacement over total knee replacement include:
- Quicker recovery
- Less pain after surgery
- Less blood loss
- May be done as outpatient
- Less infection risk
- Feels more like a normal knee
- Higher patient satisfaction
Range of motion in partial knee replacements may be better than total knee replacements. I think my partial replacement patients have a more natural feel to their knee because we are able to keep more of their normal structures.
The success and longevity of the surgery is what’s important. The implant I use has shown to be successful 90 percent of the time at 20 years. This is very comparable to total knee replacement. Of course, there are bad things that can happen with any surgery. One of the reason that partial knees can fail is the rest of the knee can wear out. This is why you have to be very careful in selecting the right patients.
If your arthritis is such that you can have a smaller procedure and get great results, go for it!