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Partial Knee Replacement

Partial knee replacement, along with knee replacement, replaces the damaged, diseased or worn joint surfaces with artificial joint components. It has developed into a standard management option for osteoarthritis of the knee with excellent pain and functional results. It rivals hip replacement in effectiveness and long life of the implants, with some of the highest quality of life improvements of all medical interventions. Full knee replacement is also known as total knee arthroplasty.

The knee has two main anatomical compartments, the outer (lateral) and the inner (medial), each made up of the round femoral condyle above and the flat tibial condyle below, with a meniscus (often called a cartilage) below. When both of these compartments are badly affected by osteoarthritis then a full knee replacement may be indicated. However there are cases when only one side of the joint is badly affected and the other is relatively unaffected by the arthritic process.

In these cases a partial knee replacement may be indicated in an attempt to treat the arthritis but have a minimally invasive effect on the knee. A half knee replacement involves placing an implant over one of side of the femoral and tibial condyles and a plastic spacer between. The operation is smaller and takes less time under anaesthetic. Knee replacement recovery can take some weeks with overall rehabilitation over several months but with partial replacement this can be much quicker.

Partial knee replacement is also known as uni-compartmental knee replacement or unicompartmental knee arthroplasty and sometimes referred to as minimally invasive knee arthroplasty. It is used for between 8-15% of all knee arthroplasties.

Partial knee replacement is only suitable if the arthritic process is mostly confined to one side of the knee, and if both sides are affected then the outcome will not be especially good. This kind of knee surgery is indicated in people over fifty-five years, who are not greatly overweight, who are not especially physically active and whose knee ligaments are intact.

The advantages of a partial knee replacement is that the incision is much smaller (at three inches compared to eight for a standard full replacement), the amount of tissue dissection is much less, bone removal is less, blood loss is reduced and there should be a shorter recovery time. Fitter patients may be discharged after one or two post operative days once their pain is controlled and they have the knee replacement exercises set by the physio.

Longer term results for partial knee replacement are good when the choice of patient is correct and many of the past poorer results may have been the result of poor patient selection. If the other side of the knee continues to become arthritic or the components loosen then the knee may have to be revised to a full total knee replacement. There are various types of knee replacement surgery available to manage knees which are unstable or have to be re-done.

Knee replacement cost is significant and partial knee replacement, with its limited intervention and reduced need for rehabilitation, should be cheaper. Recent work has shown that a much higher number of patients may be suitable for partial replacement rather than full and that this could result in saving of over £1700 in each patient. Knee replacement complications and knee replacement surgery risks should also be fewer with the reduced surgical time and scope of intervention. In some cases the problems can be severe enough to seek total knee replacement medical malpractice advice but mercifully these incidences are rare due to the care taken in the planning and execution of the procedures. Knee replacement complications - a comprehensive view reviews the three main worries about joint replacement that you might need to consider. More information can be seen about the Oxford Partial Knee here and also on

Knee replacements are becoming gradually more customised and there are specialised ones which are more appropriate to women, with Biomet using the Signature knee replacement system. This takes MRI data from the scan of the knee and manufactures custom operation guides which are applied to the outside of the leg during the procedure rather than inserted into bony areas as with the more common standard techniques.

To understand the operation and the work needed with the physio it is useful to see the replacement being done in a knee replacement surgery video, a knee replacement surgery animation or a partial knee replacement surgery video. An orthopedics video is always a useful method of conveying complex information to a patient about a procedure.

 A good source of knee replacement surgery information is very important so patients can cooperate fully with the rehabilitation and know what they have to face after the operation. A visit to the physiotherapist will help them prepare for knee replacement surgery by answering questions and giving knee exercises and gait advice so the knee is in the best condition before the operation. One way of getting first hand information from someone who has actually been through the procedure you are about to go through is to look at a total knee replacement blog or an after knee replacement blog. Such first hand experience can be vital in understanding what it is really like to have a knee operation of this type.



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