Partial Knee Replacement

Millions of individuals suffer from knee arthritis. In general, knee arthritis involves the breakdown or degeneration of the joint lining (articular cartilage) on the ends of the bones in the knee joint and loss of the normal amount of space between these bones. When arthritis becomes severe and there is no relief from pain, swelling, and limitations with daily activities, surgery becomes necessary. If just one area of the knee is damaged, a partial knee replacement (also called a unicompartmental knee replacement) may be a valid option. This operation is most commonly performed in the medial tibiofemoral (the inner portion) and patellofemoral (kneecap) compartments of the knee.

Partial knee replacement has many potential advantages over a total knee replacement (TKR). The incision is smaller and less blood is lost during the operation. The magnitude of the procedure and rehabilitation are reduced, the rate of complications is lower, and the knee “feels” more natural since only a portion is replaced. Patients typically only stay in the hospital for one night and are able to return to daily activities within a few weeks. While usually done in individuals who are 30-50 years of age, this operation can be performed in younger or older patients. The overall goal of the operation is to buy time before a TKR may be required.

Partial knee replacement may be thought of as resurfacing just a portion of the knee because only the surfaces of the bones are removed and replaced. The damaged compartment is replaced with metal and plastic; the rest of the healthy bone and surrounding tissue is left alone. At our center, the operation is done with the assistance of a robotic arm and advanced software technology that helps the surgeon make very precise calculations and bone cuts in order to achieve the best implant fit possible.

Currently, no eBooks exist that provide detailed information on partial knee replacements. After treating patients for nearly 4 decades with knee problems, we decided to write this eBook to try to help individuals understand unicompartmental operations and what to realistically expect as a result of these procedures. This eBook provides information on basic knee anatomy, the process of arthritis in the knee, the factors that go into deciding whether or not to have a partial knee replacement, what to expect from surgery, and physical therapy required after surgery. In addition, exercises to do postoperatively at home and in a fitness club are described in detail.

About Sue Barber-Westin

Sue Barber-Westin has been a member of the Cincinnati Sportsmedicine Research and Education Foundation staff since its establishment in 1985 and serves as Director of Clinical and Applied Studies. She has co-authored over 120 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and textbooks, focusingon the clinical outcome of various knee operative procedures and on neuromuscular indices in young athletes. Sue is the associate editor, along with editor Dr. Frank Noyes of the orthopaedic textbook, “Noyes Knee Disorders: Surgery, Rehabilitation, Clinical Outcomes” published in 2009. In 2004, Sue and Dr. Noyes were members of the research team that won the Clinical Research Award from the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation, the highest clinical research honor bestowed annually in orthopaedics.