Knee Replacement

Total Knee or Partial Knee Replacement 

Total knee replacement involves the replacement of all three surfaces—femur, tibia and patella—with metal and plastic components. Partial knee replacement involves the replacement of only one knee compartment (medial, lateral or patellofemoral) and may be an option for those who have painful, debilitating arthritis limited to one area of the knee. Only your doctor can determine if you are a candidate for this procedure.

During partial knee replacement, the surgical incision is usually smaller, resulting in less soft tissue trauma to and around the knee. Since more of the native knee is preserved, your knee may feel more natural than after a total knee replacement.1 Other potential benefits to partial knee replacement include:

  • Accelerated rehabilitation1
  • Faster operation
  • Shorter hospital stay compared to a total knee replacement1
  • Decreased post-surgical pain

How Long Will My Knee Replacement Last?

All knee replacements can wear out over time, including total knee replacements. How long a particular implant may last varies from patient to patient and depends on a number of factors including the patient’s weight, activity level and the accuracy of the implant’s placement. In general, many partial knee replacements do not last as long as total knee replacements. However, the factors causing this are complicated and should be discussed with your doctor.

What Are the Risks?

The primary benefit of knee replacement surgery is pain relief. As pain improves, function usually improves too. This surgery is extremely effective, but of course there are no guarantees. Additional risks of surgery, for both partial and total knee replacement, include:

  • Blood clots in leg veins (venous thromboembolic disease)
  • Fractures
  • Infection
  • Loosening of implant
  • Nerve or blood vessel damage

Your surgeon and healthcare team will take great care to minimize the risk of these and other complications. Keep in mind that complications are rare, but they need to be understood by you and your family. Your surgeon will be happy to answer any questions.

1http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00585