Partial Knee joint replacement

Partial Knee joint replacement has been used for many years in selected patients to treat localised arthritis.

Knee arthritis presents itself in a number of common patterns, sometimes the arthritic part of the joint is well localised, while the rest of the knee remains undamaged. In such circumstances it is unnecessary to replace the whole of the joint and the pain relief can be just as effective as a complete joint replacement. The surgery is less invasive and can often be achieved through smaller incisions, with less scarring and stiffness. Rehabilitation and recovery are usually faster and a return to normal life quicker.

Why do we not use this all the time?

Only a certain percentage of patients have such localised disease. The knee ligaments also need to be undamaged. If the knee is too deformed  to start with, this technique cannot be used to restore the normal alignment of the joint. Some patients also have developed arthritis because of a background inflammatory disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis and this disease will eventually progress to affect all areas of the joint and so are not suitable.

Are there any disadvantages to Partial joint replacement?

The operation does not protect other areas of the knee joint and arthritis may develop elsewhere in the joint and pain will recur.

The knee joint prosthesis will  have to be “revised” or replaced with a complete joint replacement. Although this technically feasible in most cases, it is more extensive surgery with a higher complication rate than if a complete joint had been inserted in the first place. However, modern partial joints appear to be surviving well, some as long as total joint replacement.

In younger patients who are likely to require a revision in any event, this offers the advantage that a partial joint replacement is still a lot easier to revise than a total joint replacement, and the interim function will be better.

It then becomes a balanced decision, based upon the patients age, degree and site of arthritis and other factors whether you opt for partial or total joint replacement.

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