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Unicompartmental/Partial Knee Replacement

Unicompartmental/Partial Knee Replacement Surgeon in Metro Detroit, MI

Patients with osteoarthritis that is confined to a single compartment of the knee are candidates for partial (unicompartmental) knee replacement, in which only the damaged compartment of the knee is replaced with an implant. Dr. Charters provides diagnosis and minimally invasive unicompartmental knee replacement in Metro Detroit, MI. Contact the office of Dr. Charters to schedule an appointment today!

What is Partial (Unicompartmental) Knee Replacement?

Partial (Unicompartmental) knee replacement is a minimally invasive surgery in which only the damaged compartment of the knee is replaced with an implant. It is also called a partial knee replacement.

The knee can be divided into three compartments: patellofemoral, the compartment in front of the knee between the kneecap and thighbone, the medial compartment, on the inside portion of the knee, and lateral compartment which is the area on the outside portion of the knee joint. A partial knee replacement replaces one of these 3 compartments of the knee. In other words, one-third of the knee is replaced.

The advantages of a partial knee replacement compared to total knee replacement are a quicker recovery and a less artificial feel of the knee replacement. However, not all patients are candidates for partial knee replacement because many patients have arthritis in more than one compartment of the knee.

Disease Overview of Arthritis

Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint that causes pain, swelling (inflammation) and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis, in which the joint cartilage gradually wears away. It can occur with age or due to wear and tear over time. In a normal joint, articular cartilage allows for smooth movement within the joint, whereas in an arthritic knee the cartilage itself becomes thinner or completely absent. In addition, the bones become thicker around the edges of the joint and may form bony spurs. These factors can cause pain and restricted range of motion in the joint.

Diagnosis of Arthritis

Your doctor will diagnose osteoarthritis based on your medical history, physical examination, and X-rays. X-rays typically show a narrowing of joint space in the arthritic knee.

Treatment for Arthritis

There are many treatments indicated for arthritis – both conservative (treatments without surgery) and surgical. Your doctor will discuss the best option depending on your individual condition.

Indications for Partial (Unicompartmental) Knee Replacement

Traditionally, total knee replacement was commonly indicated for severe osteoarthritis of the knee. In total knee replacement, all worn out or damaged surfaces of the knee joint are removed and replaced with new artificial parts. Partial knee replacement is a surgical option if your arthritis is confined to a single compartment of your knee.

Your doctor may also recommend surgery if non-surgical treatment options such as medications, injections, and physical therapy have failed to relieve the symptoms.

Surgical Procedure of Partial (Unicompartmental) Knee Replacement

During the surgery, a small incision is made over the knee to expose the knee joint. Your surgeon will remove the meniscus and place the implant into the bone by slightly shaping the shinbone and the thighbone. The component, which is made of metal and plastic, is placed into the newly prepared area and secured with bone cement. Now, the damaged region of the femur or thighbone is removed to accommodate the new metal component, which is fixed in place using bone cement. The incision is then closed with stitches that are all buried underneath the skin and dissolve on their own over time. There are no stitches or staples that need to be removed. A waterproof antibacterial band-aid is placed over the incision and keeps it protected for 7 days. Patients are walking within a few hours of surgery. Patients walk several times the same day as the surgery and go home the same day as the surgery.

Postoperative Care Following Partial (Unicompartmental) Knee Replacement

It is important to begin physical therapy and walk regularly after the surgery. Exercises in the first week are usually aimed at regaining joint motion. Strengthening exercises are initiated later. Regular exercises are critical for a successful outcome. You may perform exercises such as walking, swimming, and biking but repetitive impact activities for long distances such as long distance running are typically discouraged.

Risks and Complications Following Surgery for Partial (Unicompartmental) Knee Replacement

The possible risks and complications associated with unicompartmental knee replacement include:

  • Knee stiffness
  • Infection
  • Blood clots (Deep vein thrombosis)
  • Nerve and blood vessel damage
  • Ligament injuries
  • Patella (kneecap) dislocation
  • Wearing of the plastic liner
  • Loosening of the implant

Advantages of Unicompartmental Knee Replacement

The advantages of unicompartmental knee replacement over total knee replacement include:

  • Smaller incision
  • Less blood loss
  • Quick recovery
  • Less postoperative pain
  • Better overall range of motion
  • Feels more like a natural knee

If you would like more information about treatment of knee arthritis or would like to learn more about partial knee replacement, contact the office of Dr. Charters to schedule an appointment today!