Partial Knee Replacement Surgery

Osteoarthritis sometimes develops in only one partition of the knee, while the other two partitions remain relatively healthy. If you have osteoarthritis in only one partition, you may be a candidate for partial knee replacement.

A partial knee replacement resurfaces only the damaged cartilage of the knee, preserving the undamaged cartilage. You and your orthopedic surgeon will determine if a partial knee replacement is appropriate for you.

Since a partial knee replacement repairs only one side of the knee, the prosthesis parts are much smaller than they are with a total knee replacement surgery.

Advantages of a partial knee replacement

  • Minimally invasive surgical procedure
  • Faster recovery
  • More natural post-surgery motion
  • Lower wear rate for many patients
  • Greater ability to return to some activities

Not all patients are candidates for partial knee replacement. You’ll need to discuss your condition and treatment options with your knee doctor.

Before your partial knee replacement surgery

You will most likely arrive at the hospital on the morning of your scheduled surgery. Be sure to follow all of your surgeon’s instructions on preparing for surgery.

  • You should stop eating or drinking 10 hours before surgery.
  • If you take a daily medication, ask your knee doctor if you should still take it the morning of surgery.

At the hospital, your temperature, pulse, breathing, and blood pressure will be checked.

An IV (intravenous) line may be started to provide fluids and medications needed during surgery.

When your surgical team is ready, you’ll be taken to the operating room. Your surgeon will prepare the bone and remove cartilage from the damaged compartment of your knee. The removed cartilage and bone is replaced with metal coverings that recreate the surface of the joint. These metal parts are typically held to the bone with cement. A plastic insert is placed between the two metal components to create a smooth gliding surface.  Your incision will be closed with a special surgical glue.

After your surgery

After your surgery, you’ll be sent to the PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit). When you are fully awake, you’ll be moved to your room. Based on your surgeon’s instructions, the nurses will give you medications to ease your pain.  An SCD (Sequential Compression Device) may be used to prevent blood clots by gently squeezing then releasing your leg. You may be given medication to prevent blood clots.

Soon, our skilled orthopedic team will help you get up and moving. They know precisely what they’re doing and how to help you recover, heal, and get back to life in the fastest, safest way possible. You may also have physical therapy or occupational therapy after your surgery. After surgery, you will probably be hospitalized for one to three days. Recovery time varies following partial knee replacement surgery, but most people are able to drive after two weeks, garden after three to four weeks, and golf after six to eight weeks. Your surgeon will tell you which activities you can return to, and when, and which activities to avoid.

Risks and complications

As with any surgery, partial knee replacement surgery carries possible risks and complications. The following risks include:

  • Reaction to the anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Dislocation of the joint or loosening of the prosthesis
  • Fracture
  • Wearing out the prosthetic
  • Damage to nearby blood vessels, bones, or nerves
  • Pain

When to call your Orthopedic Surgeon

Once at home, call your doctor if you have any of the symptoms below:

  • An increase in pain not relieved by your pain medicine
  • Unusual redness, heat, or drainage at the incision site
  • Fever over 101.0°F (38.3°C)

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