A partial knee replacement is surgery to replace only one part of a damaged knee. It can replace either the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) parts of the knee.
Surgery to replace the whole knee joint is called total knee replacement.
Partial knee replacement surgery removes damaged tissue and bone in the knee joint. The damaged areas are replaced with a man-made implant, called a prosthetic.
Before surgery, you will be given anesthesia, which is medicine that blocks pain. You will have one of two types:
The surgeon will make a cut over your knee. This cut is about 3 to 5 inches long.
The most common reason to have a knee joint replaced is to relieve severe arthritis pain.
Your doctor may recommend knee joint replacement if:
You will need to understand what surgery and recovery will be like.
Partial knee arthroplasty may be a good choice if you have arthritis on only one side of the knee, and you:
However, most people with knee arthritis have a surgery called a total knee arthroplasty (TKA).
Knee replacement is most often done in people age 60 and older.
Risks for this surgery include:
Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, including herbs, supplements, and medicines bought without a prescription.
During the 2 weeks before your surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
Most patients go home the day after surgery.
You can put your full weight on your knee right away.
After surgery, you will be encouraged to do as much as you can for yourself. This includes going to the bathroom or taking walks in the hallways with help.
Most people recover quickly and have much less pain than they did before surgery. People who have a partial knee replacement recover faster than those who have a total knee replacement.
Many patients are able to walk without a cane or walker within 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. You will need physical therapy for 4 to 6 months.
Most forms of exercise are OK after surgery, including walking, swimming, and biking. However, you should avoid high-impact activities such as jogging.
Unicompartmental knee arthroplasty; Knee replacement - partial; Unicondylar knee replacement; Arthroplasty - unicompartmental knee; UKA; Minimally invasive partial knee replacement
Mihalko WM. Arthroplasty of the knee. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 7.
Berger RA, Meneghini RM, Jacobs JJ, et al. Results of unicompartmental knee arthroplasty at a minimum of ten years of follow-up. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2005;87(5):999-1006.
Patil S, Colwell CW Jr, Ezzet KA, et al. Can normal knee kinematics be restored with unicompartmental knee replacement? J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2005;87(2):332-338.
Richmond J, Hunter D, Irrgang J, et al. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee (nonarthroplasty). J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2009;17:591-600.
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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