Ask an expert: Top 5 knee surgeries

Written by: Mr Christopher Arthur Bailey
Edited by: Sophie Kennedy

Persistent knee pain and associated mobility problems are often a barrier to an active lifestyle. Understandably, many patients with chronic knee issues look to surgery to provide relief, whether their problem was caused by an injury or as a consequence of a condition such as arthritis. More than one hundred thousand knee replacements are performed across the UK every year, making knee surgery amongst the most common types of surgical procedure patients undergo. In this informative article, leading orthopaedic surgeon Mr Christopher Bailey gives fascinating insight into the most common surgical procedures he performs to treat knee complaints.





1. Arthroscopy


Arthroscopy is a very common procedure as it has many applications. It is a minimally invasive (key-hole) type of surgery which uses a slim tube to insert a very small camera inside the knee itself. This is done under general anaesthetic.


A key advantage of this type of procedure is that the camera allows the surgeon to actually see the joint up close from within, meaning the surgeon can diagnose or treat the problem very effectively. Additionally, because this type of surgery uses very small instruments, only tiny incisions are required which lowers risks of infections and other complications, as well as shortening recovery time.


This type of procedure is used to treat many types of knee complaints, including meniscal tears and also for ligament reconstructions.



2. ACL Reconstruction


The tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a tough band of tissue that crosses the centre of the knee joint, is often the painful result of a sporting accident. This typically happens when the foot is planted firmly but sudden, strong pressure causes the knee to twist and the ligament to tear. The reconstruction procedure uses a graft, usually from the hamstring or the patellar tendon, to repair the tear in the ligament with screws and a suspension device.



3. MPFL Reconstruction


The medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) is found near to the ACL. It links the inner part of the kneecap to the thighbone and can sometimes become stretched or overly slack after damage to the knee or an injury occurs. This slackness can mean that the kneecap dislocates more easily than usual and so often requires surgery.


In an MPFL reconstruction, a synthetic polyester tape is used to strengthen the ligament’s hold of the kneecap.



4. Total knee replacement


Damage to the knees from arthritis can leave patients with chronic pain and a loss of mobility. Given that arthritis is a relatively common condition, total knee replacements are being increasingly used to improve patients’ quality of life.


In a total knee replacement, the damaged surface of the knee joint is replaced so that it can move smoothly again. This procedure is increasingly being performed using robotic arm assistance.



5. Partial knee replacement


In some patients, arthritic damage only affects part of the knee joint and therefore a total knee replacement may not be necessary. A partial knee replacement, also known as a unicondylar or unicompartmental replacement, replaces only the damaged part of the knee.


A specially made component is implanted and the other parts of the knee are left intact, making it a smaller scale surgery with a speedier recovery time compared with a full replacement.



If you are considering knee replacement surgery or are looking for treatment for an ACL or MPFL tear, you can book a consultation with Mr Bailey by visiting his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Christopher Arthur Bailey
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr Christopher Bailey is a highly-regarded orthopaedic surgeon based in Winchester. He treats osteoarthritis, particularly in younger people. He also performs partial and total joint replacement procedures using minimally invasive and robot-assisted techniques. Mr Bailey uses the latest technology in bearing surfaces which aim to increase the longevity of modern joint replacements.

Mr Christopher Bailey completed his undergraduate medical training in Leeds and basic surgical training in Newcastle-upon-Tyne before going on to complete higher orthopaedic surgical training at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, Shropshire.

Mr Bailey completed his training with a Sports Orthopaedic and Joint Replacement Fellowship in Australia. Mr Bailey's research interests include the biomechanical testing of orthopaedic implants, computer-assisted surgery and the clinical outcomes of procedures for patellofemoral disorders. He has an NHS practice at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, where he treats lower limb trauma and manages disorders of the knee and hip. He assists in the Enhanced Recovery Programme after joint replacement and the collection of Patient-Recorded Outcome Measures.

Mr Bailey undertook fellowship training at Sportsmed SA. It is the largest sports medicine hospital in Australia, Mr Bailey treated traumatic injuries and degenerate conditions in both amateur and professional athletes. He is an active researcher and has had work published in various medical journals.

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