In unicompartmental knee replacement (also known as “partial” knee replacement) only a portion of the knee is resurfaced. For patients whose disease is limited to just one area of the knee partial knee replacement is a good alternative.
Patients usually spend less time in the hospital and return to normal activities sooner than total knee replacement patients as in a partial knee replacement procedure small incisions are used to resurface the knee.
The knee is divided into three major compartments:
- Medial compartment (the inside part of the knee)
- Lateral compartment (the outside part)
- Patellofemoral compartment (the front of the knee between the kneecap and thighbone)
A partial knee replacement is useful in treating advanced osteoarthritis that is limited to a single compartment. In this procedure, metal and plastic compartments are used to replace the damaged compartment. The healthy cartilage and bone, as well as all of the ligaments, are preserved.
Advantages of Partial Knee Replacement
Multiple studies show that a majority of patients have good results with a partial knee replacement.
The advantages of partial knee replacement over total knee replacement include:
- Quicker recovery
- Less pain after surgery
- Less blood loss
Many patients report that a partial knee replacement feels more natural than a total knee replacement because the bone, cartilage, and ligaments are preserved in the healthy parts of the knee.
Candidates for Surgery
If the non-surgical treatments are no longer beneficial in relieving your osteoarthritis advanced symptoms, the doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery.
For a candidate for partial knee replacement, your arthritis must be limited to one compartment of your knee. But, if you have any of the following, you may not be eligible for the procedure:
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Significant knee stiffness
- Ligament damage
Modern partial knee replacements have demonstrated excellent medium- and long-term results in both younger and older patients with the exact patient selection.