Osteoarthritis and you
The most common form of knee arthritis is osteoarthritis, the narrowing of the space between your femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). It is a disease that can get worse over time and may eventually affect your entire knee. Fortunately, there is an early surgical option, called a partial knee replacement, where only the damaged part of your knee is replaced.
Partial Knee Replacement
Unicompartmental knee replacement is an option for a small percentage of patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Your doctor may recommend partial knee replacement if your arthritis is confined to a single part (compartment) of your knee.
Your knee is divided into three major compartments: The medial compartment (the inside part of the knee), the lateral compartment (the outside part), and the patellofemoral compartment (the front of the knee between the kneecap and thighbone).
In a unicompartmental knee replacement, only the damaged compartment is replaced with metal and plastic. The healthy cartilage and bone in the rest of the knee is left alone.
Advantages of Partial Knee Replacement
Multiple studies have shown that modern unicompartmental knee replacement performs very well in the vast majority of patients who are appropriate candidates.
The advantages of partial knee replacement over total knee replacement include
- Quicker recovery.
- Less pain after surgery.
- Less blood loss.
Also, because the bone, cartilage, and ligaments in the healthy parts of the knee are kept, most patients report that a unicompartmental knee replacement feels more “natural” than a total knee replacement. A unicompartmental knee may also bend better.
Disadvantages of Partial Knee Replacement
When patients with a partial knee replacement are properly selected, the minimally invasive procedure is quite successful. That said, some patients continue to develop arthritis in other areas of the knee. Also, some patients wear out the unicompartmental knee implant, or it may come loose within the knee. All of these situations would require additional surgery, and possibly the conversion to a total knee surgery. Conversion from a partial knee replacement to a total knee can be more difficult because of the prior surgery, but it is not uncommon and results of conversion are good.