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Partial (or Unicompartmental) Knee Replacement:

A Less-Invasive Option for Treating Knee Arthritis

Source: Stone Clinic Website

When you wear out only one side of your knee joint, we may be able to replace the worn out area biologically with a new meniscus or articular cartilage or artificially with a partial knee device or uni-condylar knee replacement. Our goal is to minimize the loss of normal tissue and replace only the damaged area.

Robot-Assisted Partial Knee Replacement

San Francisco, CAOrthopaedic surgeon Kevin R. Stone, M.D., has performed San Francisco’s first outpatient, robot-assisted knee replacement surgery. The procedure to replace the patient’s patellofemoral joint took place at the San Francisco Surgery Center, an outpatient surgery center near Union Square.

While robotic-joint surgery has been growing nationally, the development of techniques to enable joint replacement to be performed as an outpatient procedure has the potential to revolutionize orthopaedics and the economics of healthcare.

The Makoplasty joint replacement procedure allowed the patient to walk out of the surgery center 1-1/2 hours after surgery and to begin physical therapy the next day.

There can be some advantages to a partial knee replacement for the qualified patient. Replacing only part of your knee can now be accomplished with a smaller incision. A smaller incision makes pain control easier and often reduces recovery time following surgery. Most patients stay in the hospital only one night following this surgery. Rehabilitation to resume independent activities usually occurs much quicker after a partial knee replacement as compared with a total knee replacement.

After a partial knee replacement, there are certain things you must be able to do before going home from the hospital. You should be able to get in and out of bed, walk with crutches or a walker, and do exercises that bend and straighten your new knee.

While each patient recovers at his or her own speed, you are likely to be back to regular activity within four to six weeks such as walking, golfing, stationary biking, swimming and water aerobics.

Minimally Invasive Partial (or Uni-Compartmental) Knee Surgery

Uni-compartmental knee replacement surgery utilizes specially designed implants made to resurface one side of the knee joint, and eliminate activity-limiting arthritic pain restoring more normal knee function. They are attached to the ends of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone), and move on one another during motion.
This surgery is often referred to as “less invasive” or “minimally invasive” because the procedure requires a smaller incision compared to a total knee replacement. The procedure also removes less bone and retains more of the supporting soft tissue than a total knee replacement. The existing ligaments and muscles are maintained for stability and movement of the knee. By resurfacing the arthritic bones, your arthritis pain may be reduced, allowing you to regain a more normal level of activity.  Uni-compartmental knee replacement, also called partial knee replacement, may restore your knee joint’s natural range of motion and reduce pain and stiffness.

Surgical Procedure

After you have been prepared for surgery and given an anesthetic, your knee will be cleaned with a solution to sterilize the skin around the entire knee and sterile drapes will be applied to isolate your leg from the rest of your body. An incision will be made over the side of the knee where the arthritis is located. Once the knee joint is visible, we bend and straighten your knee and check the surfaces of the bones, the ligaments, the cartilage, and other structures to assess the damage to the joint. Following this assessment, we will proceed in resurfacing the arthritis or diseased knee compartment.

We remove the worn out and damaged cartilage surfaces of the shin bone (tibia) and thigh bone (femur) at the knee joint, including small segments of bone necessary for anchoring the implants. Surgical instruments are used to remove the proper amount of bone from the tibia and femur and to assure the correct alignment of the artificial implants.

The tibial and femoral implants are inserted covering the areas where the arthritic bone has been removed. These components will be secured to the ends of the bones with a caulk-like material known as bone cement.

After the knee has been resurfaced, the alignment of the implants is checked and we verify the knee joint’s range of motion by bending and straightening your leg. The layers of tissues covering your knee are then carefully repaired. The incision is closed with removable or absorbable stitches and a bandage is applied to your knee. You will be taken off the anesthesia medication and moved to the recovery room. Partial knee replacement surgery usually takes two hours. You should plan to remain in the hospital for one night after surgery.
For more information:
Unicompartmental Knee Replacement Story
– A day by day experience