Partial knee replacement is a surgical procedure that involves replacing part of the knee joint with an artificial implant, also known as a prosthesis. It is typically carried out to improve functionality and mobility and relieve discomfort and pain when one side of the knee joint is damaged.
The National Joint Registry shows that the best results of a partial knee replacement are always achieved at the hands of surgeons who have performed high volumes of this type of surgery. Mr Matt Dawson is one of such surgeons whose numbers now exceed 300 operations. We spoke to him about how partial knee replacements are performed when they can be more beneficial than a total knee replacement and what type of risks are involved.
When is a partial knee replacement performed?
Partial knee replacement can be performed if you suffer from knee arthritis. This disease usually begins in the inner (medial) part of the knee, so we perform this procedure to catch the disease early, preventing the need to remove any of the healthy, unaffected parts of the joint. Patients report an easier and more complete recovery and greater satisfaction when compared with the outcomes of total knee replacements.
What happens during the procedure?
Partial knee replacement surgery can be carried out under either a general or spinal anaesthetic and is performed using a much smaller incision than a total knee replacement. This not only leaves a much smaller scar at the front of the knee, but patients report much lower levels of pain and a quicker recovery rate than a total knee replacement. You will most likely be able to go home after two nights in hospital but you may find you’ll be able to leave after just one night depending on your recovery.
I am a keen follower of Enhanced Recovery protocols which I also introduced into several hospitals. These techniques have revolutionised patients’ experience before, during and after their hospital stay. While we don’t expect any patient to really enjoy being in hospital, the journey is designed to make it as pleasant as possible by employing excellent pain management and physiotherapy.
What are the risks of a partial knee replacement?
As with any surgical procedure, there is always a risk of complications occurring. These can include blood loss, infection and adverse reactions to the anaesthesia. I always explain these in detail before undergoing the operation.
What are the benefits of a partial knee replacement?
There are many benefits of undergoing partial knee replacement surgery:
- It helps to relieve pain and greatly improve your mobility.
- Partial knee replacement is a less invasive and smaller operation than a total knee replacement; the incision is smaller, recovery is quicker and we try to preserve the healthy, unaffected parts of the bone. It is usually a better option when just one side of the joint is affected.
- Current outcomes suggest Unicondylar knee replacements will survive for over 20 years. I have been performing this surgery as a consultant for nearly 20 years and have passed beyond 350 cases. The survivorship curve suggests that many of my patients will experience over 30 years with a successful UKR. Only 11 of these hundreds of patients have required a revision procedure in nearly two decades.
If you are interested in a partial knee replacement and would like to discuss this with an experienced surgeon, make an appointment with Mr Matt Dawson by going to his Top Doctors profile and checking his availability.