Partial Knee Replacement Surgery

What is a partial knee replacement?

A partial knee replacement, also known as unicompartmental knee replacement, is a surgical procedure that replaces one part of the knee with an artificial joint. This is different to a total knee replacement where the whole knee is replaced.

The knee is made up of three compartments, but a partial knee replacement only replaces the one affected compartment. It's a minimally invasive procedure and can avoid healthy bone and ligaments from being removed as they would in a total knee replacement.

What are the benefits of partial knee replacement surgery?

There are many advantages of having a partial knee replacement; from a smaller incision to reduced post-operative pain. Ultimately, the goal of a partial knee replacement is to reduce pain and improve function.

The main benefits are:

  • A more natural feeling
  • Greater stability in the knee
  • Improved mobility
  • Less bone dissection
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Fewer physiotherapy sessions
  • Faster recovery
  • Faster return to normal activities
  • Greater ability to continue with exercise

What happens during a partial knee replacement?

A partial knee replacement is performed through a small incision in the knee. The damaged tissue and bone is removed and replaced with an implant that preserves the ligaments. The incision is a smaller cut than a total knee replacement which replaces the entire knee joint.

What are the potential complications of surgery?

Any surgery poses a risk and complications can occur. However, this is rare and your consultant will be sure to talk through any possible complications before your surgery.

If complications do arise, they may include; infection, blood clots, nerve damage and continued pain.

If you decide to have a partial knee replacement, you will generally experience less pain and less swelling following surgery than you would with a total knee replacement. You're also more likely to get back on your feet quicker.

How long does it take to recover from a partial knee replacement?

A major advantage of a partial knee replacement as opposed to a total knee replacement is that the recovery time can be substantially less. You’ll usually be well enough to go home the day after your procedure and you should be able to put your full weight on your knee immediately.

Following surgery, you’ll most likely need to use a walker, walking stick or crutches for the first few weeks. After this adjustment period, you should be able to walk freely with ease and start to feel the benefit of the procedure.

To help get the most out of your recovery, you’ll receive specific physiotherapy exercises to complete for up to six months. These tailored-to-you exercises will help to strengthen your muscles and improve your mobility. This is an important step on your path to recovery.

For advice on when to return to physical activities or sports, you should speak to your consultant or a member of your healthcare team who can provide appropriate advice depending on your individual needs.

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