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Is A Partial Replacement Just As Good As A Total One?

When most people think of a knee replacement, the first thought is of a total replacement. But what is a partial replacement? The thought of only doing half a surgery might initially be appealing. After all, that sounds less invasive. However, partial, or unicompartmental, knee surgeries aren’t the right choice for everyone. Here’s what to know about who is a good candidate for a partial replacement.

Can I choose either surgery?

Total and partial replacements have different benefits for different patients. During a knee replacement, the surgeon removes or resurfaces damaged bone and cartilage. Then, the surgeon replaces the damaged portions with prosthetic parts. In a total replacement, the surgeon replaces the entire knee joint. In a partial replacement, only a portion of the knee is replaced.

What are the knee compartments?

Each person’s knee has three compartments: the medial or inside, the lateral or outside, and the patellofemoral or the front of the knee. When a person has a condition like osteoarthritis, the cartilage in these compartments starts to deteriorate.

What makes me a good candidate for a partial replacement?

For some people, arthritis only affects one knee compartment. In these cases, a partial knee replacement may be a good choice. These patients can benefit from less pain and quicker recovery. The knee may also feel more natural because the patient’s own bone and cartilage are still also in place. Some patients also just appreciate knowing that not the entire knee is a prosthetic.

When do people need total replacements?

If deterioration has occurred in two or more knee compartments, a total replacement is the best bet. Additionally, a big drawback of a partial knee replacement is the unpredictability of future arthritis progression. If arthritis starts to affect more of the knee, people who had a partial replacement may need another surgery down the road. The surgeon can help guide patients about which procedure is the right choice.

Benefits of knee surgery

For many patients, a knee replacement significantly improves the quality of life. Total knee replacement surgeries have excellent patient satisfaction scores. Patients who get knee replacements experience a significant reduction in pain and increase in mobility.

Find pain relief today

For many patients, knee replacements are an opportunity to be active again. Many people who have the surgery report regretting not getting the procedure sooner. For more information about knee replacement options, speak with an orthopedic surgeon.