What is Partial Knee Replacement Surgery?

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Partial knee replacement also known as a unicompartmental knee replacement or Oxford knee replacement or a Microplasty.  To know more about the partial knee replacement, we should first understand the anatomy of the normal knee joint. The knee is made up of 3 bones: the femur, the tibia, and the kneecap. Knee has 3 compartments: the medial that is called as inner compartment, the outer that is called as a lateral compartment, and the kneecap compartment called as a patellofemoral. 80-90% of the time, the arthritis starts from the inner or the medial compartment and if it’s untreated, it may progress to the outer and then the patellofemoral or kneecap compartment and thus the whole knee gets affected.  If the arthritis is only limited to the inner compartment, then these patients are right candidates for a partial knee replacement. So, if the patient is in the stage of arthritis where he has affected only one compartment of the knee then such patients are right candidates for partial knee replacement surgery.

So, let’s understand what we do in this surgery.  We take a small cut in front of the knee and we do replace the damaged articular cartilage, On the femoral side and on the tibial side and we replace it with the metal caps above and below and a polyethylene cap in between.  So in this out of 100%, we are just replacing 30% of this and the rest of the 70% remains as it is or God given. So as you can see, we have preserved the ligaments, the meniscus, the cartilage in the other side of the knee. So, the partial knee replacement surgery is a bone and tissue preserving surgery, as you can compare it with the total knee replacement where it comes at a loss of all the cartilage and the natural ligaments.

Post-surgery, recovery of the partial knee replacement is 3x more faster, as compared to the total knee replacement, this is because we are preserving all the natural elements like ligaments and cartilage in the knee joint. Post-surgery, partial knee replacement patients feel their knee as a natural knee than the total knee replacement surgery. The hospital stay is also very minimal, as within 1 or 2 days, the patient gets discharged after partial knee replacement.

Coming to the longevity of the surgery, the longevity of the partial knee replacement is as good as the total knee replacement, or in some instances, it is much better than the total knee replacement.  After partial knee replacement surgery, patient can perform almost all kinds of activities what he was performing before surgery.

Dr. Shailendra Patil
Consultant – Orthopaedician & Joint Replacement Surgeon (View Profile)

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