Patient Care : Partial Knee Replacement

Partial Knee Replacement Surgery

If your knee damage is limited to one of the bumps on the end of your femur, you may benefit from a partial (unicompartmental) replacement that leaves the rest of the joint intact. This technology has been around for decades, but became more popular once surgeons were able to install the partial implant through a small incision (about 3 inches rather than 8) with minimal impact on muscles and ligaments — a surgery nicknamed the “mini-knee.”

The potential advantages are clear: less blood loss, shorter hospitalization, and quicker recovery. However, a unicompartmental replacement lasts only about 10 years. You may be offered this option only if damage is limited to one portion of the knee, if the damage results from a traumatic injury rather than arthritis, and if your ligaments are intact. The ideal patient for this surgery remains an older, thinner person rather than a younger, more active one. It may be suggested to buy time before total knee replacement in someone young and active, however.