A partial knee replacement removes as little bone from the knee as possible. In patients with only limited knee arthritis, surgeons may elect to perform a unicompartmental (partial) knee replacement. More than 30,000 patients undergo this procedure every year in the United States.
Unlike total knee replacement, a partial knee replacement replaces only one side of the knee joint. In knees that are otherwise healthy, a unicompartmental approach enables the outer compartment and all ligaments to remain intact. By retaining all of the undamaged parts, the joint may bend better and function more naturally. With more tissue conserved, a surgeon can perform a future total knee replacement more easily, if necessary at all.
However, not all patients are candidates for partial knee replacement. Discuss treatment options with a surgeon.
Though uncommon, any surgery patient risks complications such as infection, blood clots, implant breakage or failure, malalignment and premature wear. The surgeon will refer the patient to a physician before surgery in order to undergo tests; the patient must also have up-to-date dental work and prepare the home to avoid falls. Regardless of complications, no implant lasts forever. Factors such as the patient’s post-surgery activities and weight can affect longevity. Discuss these and other risks with the surgeon.
Pre- and Post-Surgery
Patients may begin strengthening exercises before surgery to help prepare for surgery and their recovery. They may also receive a comprehensive nutrition plan to help ensure optimal health before surgery. The surgeon may also implement a pain management program catered to the patient, designed to dramatically reduce a patient's pain after surgery. Reducing post-surgery pain is critical to rehabilitation and to making a rapid recovery.
The surgeon performs the entire procedure through a very small incision, with minimal trauma to surrounding soft tissue. Many patients leave the hospital on the day of or the day after surgery, and are back to work within two weeks. Some walk on their surgical leg the same day as surgery and can possibly be discharged within 24 hours of surgery. Patients may need to use a walker or a cane for the first week after surgery.
In addition to a shorter incision, our surgeons have implemented a highly organized treatment plan for their patients' physical and mental health, educating patients with a variety of materials. The comprehensive materials will help patients understand the surgical procedure and its outcomes.
Every patient’s recovery time will vary, but most find themselves able to be active a few short weeks after surgery. Many activities are encouraged, including walking, golf and bike riding. The surgeon will advise which activities to avoid.
We realize that the decision to have surgery can be difficult. Millions of others have made this choice, allowing them to return to more active lifestyles. This guide is not intended to replace the experience and counsel of a physician. Please speak with an orthopedic surgeon with any further questions.