Doctors resurface damaged bone and cartilage during knee replacement surgeries. Unicompartmental Knee Replacement differ from traditional replacements because surgeons only surface specific portions of the knee. This procedure is an excellent alternative for patients with limited damage. A smaller incision is needed, so it typically takes less time to complete, and patients can experience recovery faster. Patients should decide with their doctors which form of surgery is best for them.
Knee osteoarthritis causes the protective cartilage in the knee to wear away over time. Deterioration can occur throughout the knee joint or in one area. Advanced osteoarthritis targets a single compartment of the knee, and can be treated with unicompartmental knee replacement. During surgery, the damaged compartment is replaced with metal and plastic elements. All healthy cartilage and bone are preserved.
Studies show patients who are good candidates for the procedure have successful, long-lasting results. Patients report quicker recovery, reduced pain, and less blood loss. It’s common for patients to report a more natural result since only one compartment of the knee is replaced.
A disadvantage of unicompartmental knee replacement is that in some cases a total knee replacement may be necessary for the future. Additional surgery is only performed if arthritis develops in parts of the knee that have not been replaced.
If non-surgical treatments are no longer relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis, a doctor may recommend knee replacement surgery. Unicompartmental knee replacement candidate’s arthritis must be limited to one compartment of the knee. If the patients have inflammatory arthritis, significant knee stiffness or ligament damage they may be ineligible for unicompartmental knee replacement. The procedure has been an excellent solution with medium and long-term results in younger and older patients.
A partial knee replacement typically takes one to two hours. The surgeon will make an incision at the front of the knee. After the incision is made, the surgeon verifies which compartment is damaged. The doctor will prepare the bone using a special saw to remove cartilage from the damaged compartment. Then the metal implant is replaced with metal coverings and melded to the bone with cement. A plastic insert is pushed between the metal to create a smooth surface. After the surgery, the patient is taken to the recovery room and monitored by nurses as the anesthesia dissipates.
Partial knee replacements include less postoperative pain, less swelling, and easier rehabilitation. Patients can return home one to three days after the operation. It’s common to feel some pain, but typically medicine is prescribed to help control pain. Patients can begin putting weight on their knee immediately after surgery. However, a walker, cane or crutch may be needed for the first few days after surgery. A physical therapist will prescribe exercises to help maintain range of motion and restore strength. In most cases, patients return to regular activities six weeks after surgery.