Orthopedic surgeons view partial knee replacement surgery as a good alternative in cases where only a part of the knee is affected by osteoarthritis. Also known as unicompartmental knee arthroplasty, this surgical procedure has helped in improving the quality of life of many individuals affected by the osteoarthritis of the knee joint.
Overview of the Surgery
Total knee replacement is considered, if the damage to the knee is extensive. Unicompartmental knee arthroplasty is recommended when osteoarthritis is detected at an early stage, and the damage is restricted to just one part of the knee. The surgery involves the replacement of only the damaged cartilage of the knee with a metal and plastic implant, and the healthy parts of the knee are preserved. These days, a minimally-invasive surgical technique is used. In this procedure, a small incision (3-4 inches long) is made, and the metal and plastic implant is inserted through this incision. Due to the minimal damage to the muscles and tendons around the knee, the recovery period is shorter. Even the duration of hospital stay is a couple of days for most patients. The blood loss and postoperative pain is less in comparison to a total knee replacement surgery. After the surgery, the patient is able to walk with the help of a walker or cane. In a couple of weeks, the patient could walk without a cane or walker. The recovery period for partial knee replacement surgery is quite less in comparison to total knee replacement surgery. Other advantages include lower cost, and fewer and less severe complications.
As with any surgery, there's always a risk of complications. However, complications are uncommon. There is a risk of infection or blood clots. If the implant breaks or the alignment is not correct, then another surgery might be required. In order to prevent infections or blood clots, the use of antibiotics and blood thinners might be recommended before and after the surgery. The success of the surgery will also depend on the seriousness with which the patient follows the aftercare measures or guidelines given by the surgeon.
According to the National Institutes of Health, many patients are able to walk without a cane or walker within 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. However, physical therapy would be required for 4 to 6 months. During the recovery period, the patient should not perform high-impact activities that put stress on the knee joint.
The recovery period ranges between 6 and 8 weeks. With this minimally invasive surgery, the patient is able to resume routine activities faster. Usually, the patient is able to walk, without any support, within the 6 to 8 week of rehabilitation period. The patient can perform low-impact activities between six to twelve weeks. However, the time taken to completely recover from the surgery will vary, depending on the individual circumstances.
The recovery period is, of course, subject to the condition that rehabilitation doesn't run into any problems. In the first period of rehabilitation, the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is followed, where the knee is immobilized to speed up the healing process. The second period involves physiotherapy. At the end of a surgery, the whole procedure can really sap the energy from the muscles. Thus, there is an immediate need to strengthen the muscles around the knee. Physiotherapy helps strengthens the knee, and improves the range of motion of the knee joint.
On a concluding note, partial knee replacement surgery is a good alternative when there's less damage to the knee joint due to osteoarthritis. The prognosis is good, if you religiously follow the advice given by the orthopedic surgeon.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.