For those looking to avoid a total knee replacement, a unicompartmental knee arthroplasty might be an option. Some patients that have osteoarthritis in just one part of the knee may also be candidates for this surgery. Because the damaged is limited, only a part of the knee is replaced with metal and plastic and the healthy tissue is left untouched. During the surgery, the doctor will remove the damaged bone, put an implant on the ends of the bones that were cut and secure the device with screws. For certain patients, this procedure can be done with minimally invasive techniques to help with pain and recovery time. A partial knee replacement can be advantageous compared to a total knee replacement for appropriate candidates, especially because usually it leads to a quicker recovery, less postoperative pain and less blood loss.
There can be a few reasons why patient’s will need a partial knee replacement, the most common are due to arthritis, severe trauma, or a major deformity. When it comes to arthritis, there are three basic kinds that can affect the knee joint: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis (OA), a progressive degenerative disease that causes the joint cartilage to break down. This type of arthritis is most commonly found in older adults. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long term disease that causes inflammation in the joints and the surrounding tissue and can destroy the cartilage in the joint. RA and occur at any age and normally affects most of the joints in the body. Post-traumatic arthritis usually develops after an injury and is very similar to osteoarthritis in how it damages the body. Post-traumatic arthritis can present symptoms years after a fracture, ligament injury, or meniscus tear.
Partial Knee Replacement Candidates
Your orthopedist will be able to determine if you could benefit from a partial knee replacement by evaluating your medical history and through imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans. Those who may be good candidates for partial versus total knee replacement have arthritis that is only in one compartment of the knee rather than more widespread. Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers generally are not considered ideal candidates, as they usually have more significant knee stiffness and ligament damage compared to osteoarthritis patients. For selected candidates, partial knee replacement produces excellent medium or long-term results in patients of any age.
The surgery lasts about one or two hours, and begins with administration of anesthesia before an incision is made at the front of the knee. Your orthopedic surgeon will explore the compartments of the knee to examine for cartilage or ligament damage. If you have extensive damage, the doctor may decide to perform a total knee replacement, instead, as a contingency plan. This possibility will be discussed with you prior to your procedure. During the partial knee replacement, a special saw will be used to remove cartilage from the damaged knee compartment and the ends of the femur and tibia will be capped off with metal coverings. These components are held to the bone with cement, and a plastic insert will be placed between the two metal components to create a smooth, gliding surface. Following surgery, you will be in the recovery room for monitoring as anesthesia wears off.
Knee replacement surgery is a major surgery and there are very real risks that patients need to be aware of, these risks include:
- Blood clots which may result in a clot breaking off to the lungs, called Deep Vein Thrombosis.
- Persistent pain.
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia.
- Wound infection, which will be addressed with preventive antibiotic medication.
- Damage to nerves or blood vessels during procedure.
It is very important to note that patients who undergo knee replacement surgery are unable to return to their pre-injury activities because of a loss of mobility and the increased risk of re-damaging their knee.
A partial knee replacement can make a HUGE difference to your overall quality of life. Find out how West Medical has designed and perfected minimally invasive procedures that will have you feeling great, and back on your feet in no time. To learn more about partial knee replacement, as well as other orthopedic surgery services available in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, please contact West Medical at (855) 690-0565, and our helpful medical staff will answer any questions you may have.
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