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Partial knee replacement surgery

Find out why you might need this procedure and what to expect

A partial knee replacement surgery, also known as unicompartmental knee replacement, is a 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 in a partial knee replacement, only the damaged compartment is replaced. The operation is a minimally invasive procedure and can avoid healthy bone and ligaments from being removed as they would in a total knee replacement. Your consultant will tell you whether you need a partial or full knee replacement. 

Partial knee replacement surgery may be suitable for patients suffering from knee arthritis, where only one of the three main parts of the knee has been affected. The majority of patients who require surgery will need a total knee replacement. 

The inner half of the joint between the thigh bone and shin bone is called the medial compartment. Approximately one third of people with knee osteoarthritis will have it only in the medial compartment. A partial knee replacement often results in a more natural movement of the knee.  

The symptoms will be very similar to those in people with arthritis throughout the joint. Pain, stiffness and progressive deformity are key signs that the knee joint is deteriorating. There may well be a pre-existing bow-legged deformity which predisposes to medial compartment arthritis as all the load passes through the inner half of the knee. 

There are two options once the stage has been reached where knee replacement needs to be considered - either total or a partial knee replacement. For a partial knee replacement, the deformity must be correctable, the ligaments must all be intact and the range of knee movement should be preserved. 

The cost of the surgery varies between locations.The cost includes all your hospital visits, such as initial consultation, the surgery and recovery afterwards when you are an inpatient. We provide high-quality care throughout your stay and we reflect that within our costs.

Partial knee replacement surgery is usually performed under a general anaesthetic, although you may have a spinal anaesthetic or epidural. Your consultant will explain which one is best for you. The procedure usually takes around 90 minutes.

During the procedure, the surgeon will make a small cut in the knee. The damaged tissue and bone is removed and replaced with an implant that preserves the ligaments. The incision used is smaller than a total knee replacement, which replaces the entire knee joint.

The implant, also called a prosthesis, is made from metal and plastic parts. The implant for your knee will be made-to-measure so that it fits.

The surgeon will cut away the damaged parts of the bone, which are then cleaned. The prosthesis is fitted and then fixed in place using a special bone cement. The wound is closed using either stitches or clips and a dressing is applied.

Robotic partial knee replacement surgery

As a private patient, you can now choose to have a robotics-assisted partial knee replacement with an expert surgeon at one of our hospitals. 

The NAVIO Surgical system helps some of the country’s leading surgeons to deliver even greater accuracy during your operation, while also eliminating the need for a CT scan before surgery.

A major advantage of a partial knee replacement is that the recovery time can be substantially less. You’ll usually be well enough to return 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 crutches or a walker for the first few weeks. After this adjustment period, you should be able to walk freely without the need for a cane or walker and start to feel the benefit of the procedure. 

To help get the most out of your rehabilitation, you will receive specific physiotherapy exercises to complete for up to six months. These exercises will be tailored to your needs by our physiotherapists. The workouts 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 after partial knee replacement, you should speak to your consultant or a member of your healthcare team who can provide appropriate advice depending on your individual needs. 

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

The main benefits are:

  • A more natural feeling
  • Greater stability in the knee
  • Improved range of motion
  • Less bone dissection
  • Less post-operative knee pain
  • Fewer physiotherapy sessions
  • Faster recovery time following the procedure
  • Faster return to normal, daily activities
  • Greater ability to continue with exercise

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

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

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

Treatment prices

Please be aware that the following prices are a guide price. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation and any necessary diagnostic tests.

The cost of surgery for a partial knee replacement 

Patient pathway Initial consultation Diagnostic Investigations Main treatment Post discharge care Total
Hospital fees N/A Included £12,322 Included £12,322
Consultants fees £200 N/A Included Included £200
Total £12,522

Specialists offering Partial knee replacement surgery

Mr Robert Duthie

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBChB, FRCS (Tr & Orth)

BMI Albyn Hospital

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Mr Ravi Pandit

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MS(Orth), FRCS(Eng), FRCS(Orth)

BMI Bishops Wood Hospital

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Mr Syed Awais Bokhari

Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon

BSc, MBBS, MRCS (England), FRCS (Trauma & Orthopaedics)

BMI The Beardwood Hospital

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Mr Vel Sakthivel

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBBS, FRCSEd, FRCS (Tr & Ortho), DIP

BMI The Lincoln Hospital

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Mr Derek Bickerstaff

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

oMD, FRCS, FRCSEd, FFSEM

BMI Thornbury Hospital

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