Knee replacement surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States. But many candidates for this type of procedure have the option of getting a partial knee replacement or a total replacement instead. This determination is normally reliant upon the recommendation of your orthopedic knee surgeon, but there are a number of factors that go into the decision.
Any type of replacement surgery is usually performed to alleviate conditions afflicting the knee joint that is not successfully treated by typical non-invasive methods such as medications, injections, wearing a brace, or undergoing physical therapy.
Arthritis is the most widespread cause associated with knee pain that results in replacement surgery but other issues such as significant knee injuries or deformities can also call for partial or total replacement as well. Many patients can live long and comfortable lives with these conditions through non-operative methods, but for those who suffer severe deterioration at the knee joint, surgery may be the best option for eliminating chronic knee pain as a result of these afflictions.
There is no reason to compromise your quality of life due to severe knee discomfort. If you are feeling stiffness and pain your knees, you may already be a good candidate for some form of knee replacement surgery.
Deciding on Total or Partial Replacement
Every knee is made up of three separate compartments which include the patellofemoral, the lateral, and the medial compartments. These are the front, outside, and inside of the knee respectively, and, in many cases, only one compartment will be affected. That is when a partial replacement will be necessary. However, if all of the compartments have been affected then you will likely need to go with a total replacement.
Many patients will prefer to opt for a partial replacement because they get to keep more of their own tissue and ligaments. They feel that it’s better to have more of their existing knee structure contained within the area depending upon the condition that is being treated. In most instances, the medial compartment is the area being surgically replaced which allows for the patellofemoral and lateral compartments to remain intact.
Certain other risks and factors come into play with the decision to go with a partial or total replacement. If the knee has gone through long-term wear and tear there might be ligament issues where they may not be repaired. They might be considered too unstable to remain in the knee, in which case a total replacement is performed.
On the other hand, partial replacement may be a better option for someone who had previous work done in one particular compartment and there is evidence of deterioration having occurred over time.
You and your doctor will discuss your specific situation and decide which is best based on the condition of all three compartments of the knee.
Candidates for Partial Knee Replacement
A model has been established that describes the best candidates for undergoing partial over total knee replacement surgery. These are the criteria that have been set…
The best patients are typically 60 years of age or older, they weigh under 180 lbs., they already possess complete mobility yet are not as physically active, and display very little deformity in the knee.
However, any patient who shows signs of certain types of inflammatory arthritis will negate their likelihood of being an ideal candidate as these sorts of conditions typically mean that two or three compartments have been affected. Therefore, a total replacement may be the best plan for treatment.
Why Partial is Preferred
While many patients and doctors would rather opt to go with a partial replacement over total because it leaves more of the knee intact, there are other beneficial reasons why partial is preferable.
You get to keep more of your existing soft tissue and bone, but there is less blood loss in this procedure as well. Patients experience a quicker recovery time when only part of the knee has been replaced and there is the potential for an increased range of motion once that recovery has been completed.
Risks of Going with Partial Over Total Replacement
When you have a total knee replacement performed, you are reducing the likelihood of certain potential complications from occurring. Partial replacement might lead to the necessity for having the procedure redone again in the future and revision surgeries can be far more complex for the doctor to perform. There is also a slight risk of limited mobility from a partial replacement. Take these into consideration as you decide which procedure is best for your situation.