When the knee is neither performing or responding to treatment or medication, clinicians may suggest knee replacement surgery.
There are two options here. There is partial knee and total knee replacement. The latter encompasses over 90 percent of these surgeries.
Total Knee Replacement
Since 1968, when the first successful knee replacement was completed, the medical community has dynamically improved the knee replacement procedure.
Advancements in the tech and processes have created extremely precise and high functioning knee implants that practically duplicate movement of the human knee. This is because devices are custom fit to a patient’s body.
Total knee replacement entails removing damaged bone surfaces. The knee is then replaced with a customized artificial implant. The surgeon cuts away at the bone to accurately shape healthy bone underneath for precise fitting of the implant.
Per the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 90 percent of patients walk away from total knee replacement with a dramatic reduction in pain, and improved movement and mobility.
Partial Knee Replacement
A uni-compartmental, or partial, knee replacement involves removal of only a part of the joint. The procedure looks to preserve as much of the healthy soft tissue and bone as possible.
In the majority of cases, patients that need this procedure suffer from osteoarthritis in one of three anatomical knee compartments and where the diseased bone is most painful.
During the surgery, the surgeon removes only the arthritic bone and cartilage in the knee. They are replaced with plastic and metal components. The advantage of the procedure is shorter hospital stays, less post-surgery pain, a faster recovery and rehabilitation, and minimized blood loss.
Partial surgery is usually reserved for patients under 65 with healthy bone in the knee. The procedure is deployed if only one of the three compartments are damaged. The procedure may require additional operations, including a total knee replacement by a surgeon. But that likely wouldn’t happen for decades years after the initial surgery. This is commonly due to the fact the original implant begins to wear out.
Patients who have undergone partial knee replacement report a better and more natural motion.
Types of Surgery
The surgeon makes incisions and uses standard, safe techniques. It can require up to four months for recovery.
Minimally invasive surgery reduces tissue trauma, decreases loss of blood and minimizes pain. There is a smaller incision with the kneecap pushed aside as opposed to being turned over as in standard surgery.
There are several approaches here. Each minimizes trauma on the quadriceps muscle. One approach, called the subvastus, refers to accessing the joint from under the vastus muscle. In the midvastus approach, the surgeon goes under the vastus muscle.
This surgery is common with patients have knees that bend outward. It’s a less invasive procedure sparing much of the quadriceps.
Entering anatomical data into a computer and creating a 3D model of the knee, surgeons are able to perform a more precise procedure and increase the odds the implant will perform effectively.