In unicompartmental knee replacement (also called “partial” knee replacement) only a portion of the knee is resurfaced. This procedure is an alternative to total knee replacement for patients whose disease is limited to just one area of the knee. Because a partial knee replacement is done through a smaller incision, patients usually spend less time in the hospital and return to normal activities sooner than total knee replacement patients. Partial knee replacement isn’t suitable for everyone because you need to have strong, healthy ligaments within your knee. Even though the operation involves less interference with the knee it is often a more complex operation than total knee replacement. It is therefore reccommended that patient opt for a total knee replacement. Unicompartmental knee replacement is also less desirable for a young, active person because it may not withstand the extremes of stress that high levels of activity create. It is best suited for the older, slim person with a relatively sedentary lifestyle. Only between 6 and 8 out of 100 patients with arthritic knees are good candidates for unicompartmental knee replacement. Because the unicompartmental knee replacement can be inserted through a relatively small incision (approximately 3 to 4 inches long), which does not interrupt the main muscle controlling the knee,
MINIMALLY INVASIVE KNEE REPLACEMENT
In minimally invasive knee replacement, the surgical procedure is similar, but there is less cutting of the tissue surrounding the knee. The artificial implants used are the same as those used for traditional knee replacement. However, specially designed surgical instruments are used to prepare the femur and tibia and to place the implants properly. Minimally invasive knee replacement is performed through a shorter incision—4 to 6 inches versus 8 to 10 inches for traditional knee replacement. A smaller incision allows for less tissue disturbance. Minimally invasive total knee replacement is not suitable for all patients. Your doctor will conduct a thorough evaluation and consider several factors before determining if the procedure is an option for you or not. In general, candidates for minimal incision procedures are thinner, younger, healthier and more motivated to participate in the rehabilitation process, compared with patients who undergo the traditional surgery. Minimally invasive surgeries may be less suitable for patients who are overweight or who have already undergone other knee surgeries. A patient considering minimally invasive surgery should speak with their surgeon about potential advantages and disadvantages in the context of the patient’s knee arthritis, knee anatomy, overall health and lifestyle.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER SURGERY?
The average hospital stay is usually 4 days for knee replacement surgery. Almost all patients show a dramatic improvement within a month. Most people report a major reduction or no pain in the damaged joint once it is replaced by the artificial joint. After knee joint replacement, many people start standing and moving the joint a day after the surgery. After about six weeks, most people start walking comfortably with minimal assistance. Once muscle strength is restored, people who have had knee joint replacement surgery can enjoy most activities except running and jumping.