Knee replacement is the most common joint replacement surgery in the United States, as hundreds of thousands of Americans get new knees each year. Since it is such a common surgery, medical experts are always looking for new ways to improve the operation and patient outcomes, and a recent change has been the move to partial knee replacement in qualified candidates. But how can you know if you’re a candidate for partial knee replacement, and what are the differences between the two operations? We explain in today’s blog.
Partial Vs. Total Knee Replacement
- The medial compartment (inside of the knee)
- The lateral compartment (outside of the knee)
- The patellofemoral compartment (front of the knee)
In most cases where knee replacements need to take place, it’s because there is damage to multiple or all components of a knee. For example, with knee osteoarthritis, the most common cause of knee replacement, the condition typically affects all compartments of the knee instead of degenerating just one compartment while the other two remain healthy. However, in some cases or due to unique degeneration of the knee joint, only one compartment is damaged, and that’s when doctors pursue a partial replacement of the joint.
Here’s a closer look at some of the differences between the procedures:
- What’s Being Replaced? – In a partial knee replacement operation, only one compartment is replaced, leaving more of the knee intact. During a total replacement, all three knee compartments are replaced with an artificial joint.
- Ligament Preservation – When only one compartment is being replaced, surgeons keep the anterior and posterior knee ligaments in place. During a total knee replacement operation, the ligaments are removed. A partial knee replacement operation helps to preserve more of your body structures.
- Risks and Recovery – Both procedures have extremely high success rates, but simply due to the nature of the operation, patients who undergo a partial knee replacement generally have a lower risk of complications, blood loss, tissue dissection and a faster recovery. That being said, you’re more likely to need a revisional operation if you undergo a partial replacement than if the whole joint is replaced.
- Candidacy – Herein lies the potential pitfall for individuals hoping for partial knee replacement. Most patients have degeneration in more than one compartment of their knee, and many of them do not meet the criteria for the ideal partial knee replacement candidate, which includes factors like being less than 180 pounds, having good range of motion before surgery and having minimal joint deformity. After looking at all factors, only about 6-10% of patients are a candidate for partial knee replacement surgery.
Both procedures have unique benefits and risks, and Dr. Botero would be more than happy to discuss your candidacy for either type of procedure if you’re dealing with chronic knee pain. For more information or to set up an appointment with Dr. Botero, contact his office today.