Partial Knee Replacement

Partial Knee Replacement

Also known as unicompartmental (“uni”) knee replacement, this procedure is an option for patients suffering from arthritis that is confined to one area of the knee.  The knee consists of three compartments: the lateral compartment is the space between the bones on the outside part of the knee, the medial compartment is the space inside, and the patellofemoral compartment is the space between the back of the kneecap and femur.  Some patients will only have arthritis in one compartment.  During a partial knee replacement, the damaged surfaces of a compartment are removed and replaced with plastic and metal implants.  Most often, this surgery can be an option for patients with arthritis limited to the medial compartment.

Advantages of this surgery include faster recovery time, smaller incision, and preservation of the healthy part of the knee.  The disadvantage of a uni knee is the potential for arthritis to develop in the rest of the knee, requiring another surgery (total knee replacement) to relieve your symptoms.

The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and will take approximately 1-2 hours.  Most patients will stay overnight in the hospital after surgery.  The orthopedic surgeon will make an incision in the front of the knee.  Next, the damaged cartilage is removed and metal coverings are cemented to the femur and tibia.  A plastic liner is inserted in between the metal implants to provide a smooth, gliding surface.  The soft tissue and skin is closed with suture or staples.  You will wake up in recovery and be transported to a patient room.

Surgery risks:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Blood Clots
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Blood vessel or nerve injury
  • Continued pain

It is important to discuss surgery risks and expectations with your doctor to see if you are a candidate for a partial knee replacement.