Partial Knee Replacement
Partial knee replacement may be a great option for patients with arthritis limited to one section, or compartment, of the knee. Compared to a total knee replacement, a partial knee replacement allows you to retain more of the natural knee joint, which may lead to less pain and a quicker recovery.
Drs. John Franklin, John Bojescul, Jeremy Jacobs, and Vaughn Massie (Aiken), specialize in partial knee replacement surgery.
Who is a Candidate for Partial Knee Replacement?
The knee is divided into 3 sections, called compartments: the medial compartment (inner section of the knee), the lateral compartment (the outer section of the knee), and the patellofemoral compartment (the front section of the knee, between the kneecap and the thighbone). In order to be a candidate for partial knee replacement, the patient’s arthritis must be limited to only one of these compartments. An examination with imaging tests will confirm the location of the arthritis damage.
The surgeon may also consider other factors when determining whether a patient is a candidate for partial knee replacement. Patients with inflammatory arthritis, significant knee stiffness, or ligament damage may not be good candidates for a partial knee replacement. The surgeon evaluates each patient on a case by case basis, and recommends the procedure options he believes will provide the best long-term results for the patient’s individual needs.
Partial Knee Replacement Procedure
Our surgeons often perform partial knee replacements in an outpatient setting, so patients can typically return home the day of surgery.
A partial knee replacement is similar to a total knee replacement in that damaged cartilage is removed from the knee, metal implants are cemented to the bone to recreate the joint surface, and a plastic insert is placed between the metal implants to allow the joint to glide smoothly. However, partial knee replacement implants only cover the single damaged compartment of the knee, while the natural joint surfaces of the other two healthy compartments are left intact.
In the right patients, partial knee replacement can offer many benefits over total knee replacement. The majority of patients undergoing partial knee replacement have less blood loss during surgery, less pain after surgery, and a lower risk of infection after surgery as compared to total knee replacement.
In rare cases, when viewing the knee directly during surgery, the surgeon may opt to instead perform a total knee replacement if he finds arthritis damage in other parts of the knee. However, if this is a possibility, he will discuss options with the patient prior to surgery. This is not a common situation, as preoperative imaging tests and examinations are very effective in identifying joint damage throughout the knee.
Recovering from Partial Knee Replacement
Patient who have undergone partial knee replacement often have less pain after surgery, which often leads to a quicker recovery than total knee replacement. Reduced pain often means that patients are able to get back to their normal, everyday activities more quickly. Many patients find that the partial knee replacement feels like a normal knee joint.
Physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process because it helps to improve strength and range of motion in the knee. Patients generally participate in physical therapy for 6 weeks after surgery.
Patients may be able to return to work as soon as 2 weeks after surgery, if their jobs are not physically demanding (such as a desk job). Patients with jobs requiring physical labor may not be able to return to work for up to 6 weeks after surgery. By the 6-week mark after surgery, most patients are able to resume all of their normal activities. Patients are typically back at 100% and able to participate in regular exercise and sports within 3 months of surgery.
In the long term, studies have shown that partial knee replacement implants last as long as total knee replacement implants. Unless arthritis develops in other compartments of the knee, partial knee replacement patients are very unlikely to need a total knee replacement in the future.