What is a Partial Knee Replacement?

Patients living with osteoporosis of the knee or other similar conditions may qualify for a partial knee replacement. Partial knee replacement surgery can be achieved when damage to the knee is isolated in one specific part. Partial knee replacement will replace specific components; more extensive knee joint damage may require a total knee replacement.

How does a partial knee replacement work?

Partial knee replacement surgery is an option for patients with cartilage disintegration in one section or area of the knee. Damaged cartilage and bone are removed and replaced by a prosthesis while unaffected cartilage and bone are preserved. A partial knee replacement will strengthen the knee joint and help to support the remaining ligaments. Partial knee replacements allow patients to experience symptom relief without disturbing unaffected areas and preserving more of their natural structure.

Who is a good Candidate for a partial knee replacement?

Good candidates for partial knee replacements are typically older than 60 years old, under 180 lbs and have minimal deformity/damage as a result of their knee condition. Good candidates also typically lead a less active lifestyle, though they have a good range of motion prior to surgery–this sort of lifestyle and condition works well for both the process of surgery and recovery.

Patients suffering from more extensive knee damage and inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis and patients living extremely active/athletic lifestyles may not be good candidates for partial knee replacements. Inflammatory arthritis often is a sign that more than one area of the knee is affected, and may require a total knee replacement. These patients will typically require more extensive repair, or can damage the partial replacement prosthesis with excessive movement.

Benefits and risks of partial knee replacements

Partial knee replacements can help alleviate the symptoms associated with knee damage, and many patients are able to recover and live their lives unencumbered. Some of the benefits of a partial knee replacement include: minimizing bone/soft-tissue damage, minimizing blood loss during surgery, an easier surgical process than more invasive surgeries, faster recovery time than total knee replacements, and improved comfort and range of motion for good candidates.

As with all surgical procedures, partial knee replacements do come with risks and complications. Some complications associated with partial knee replacements can include: decreased range of motion and worse function than total knee replacements and high rates of redo/revision. Many partial knee replacements require attention after the initial surgery, revision can come with higher risks than the first surgery and can limit the range of motion a patient can achieve.


Though partial knee replacement surgery must be done under general anesthesia, most patients spend no more than a single night in the hospital, and many opt for the option of outpatient care. Partial knee replacement surgery is relatively non-invasive, and many patients find their recovery period easier than those that have more extensive/invasive procedures.

The first two weeks after partial knee replacement surgery will be dedicated to improving walking and stability. As your partial knee replacement heals, you will steadily be able to increase the time you spend walking or exercising. Good candidates for partial knee replacements find that the recovery period is quite short, and they are able to return to business as usual with a real-feeling knee in no time.

Get more information about Matthew D. Barber, M.D. in Mobile at http://barbertotaljoint.com.

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