Partial knee replacement: what are the benefits?

Written by: Mr Matt Dawson
Edited by: Cameron Gibson-Watt

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.

By Mr Matt Dawson
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr Matt Dawson is a highly skilled orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in sports injuries and degenerative conditions affecting the knee. His areas of expertise include; knee osteotomy, knee ligament reconstruction, joint replacement, partial joint replacement, arthroscopy and cartilage reconstruction. His private clinics are based at The Cumbrian Knee Clinic Penrith, Nuffield Health Newcastle Upon Tyne HospitalRamsay Fulwood Hall Hospital Preston and BMI The Lancaster Hospital. He is a global leader in the field of osteotomy, having developed one of the largest UK practises in osteotomy of the knee, and has one of the largest single surgeon series in the UK. 

Mr Dawson completed his orthopaedic training in London and a sports knee fellowship in Dublin before he joined North Cumbria University NHS Hospital, where he has worked since 2001.  During these years he has been clinical director and is the knee surgery lead. He also provides one of the largest unicondylar (partial) knee replacement services in the North of England, having carried out over 300 of these procedures. He uses gold standard implants for both partial and full knee replacements and the National Joint Registry confirms his good results.

Mr Dawson has developed one of the largest European practices in Osteotomy surgery, with around 600 cases to date. This includes a wide range of osteotomy, incorporating combined complex procedures for deformity and instability.

Mr Dawson is a leading educator in the field of osteotomy and joint preservation. He hosts a successful fellowship in osteotomy and knee surgery at North Cumbria University Hospital and lectures locally, nationally and internationally. Mr Dawson also hosts an annual international masterclass at St James Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, where he is joined by internationally recognised experts. He is a founding member of UKKOR, the world’s first national osteotomy registry. From 2018 to 2022 he has been elected the Chair of the leading European Sports Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy Society, ESSKA’s Osteotomy Committee.

Mr Dawson is undertakes research and his work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals on the subject of osteotomy and knee surgery. Currently, he is collaborating with various international companies in increasing accuracy in osteotomy surgery. 

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

This website uses its own and third-party cookies to collect information in order to improve our services, to show you advertising related to your preferences, as well as to analyse your browsing habits..