Minimally Invasive Partial Knee Replacement

Partial knee or Unicompartmental knee replacement is a minimally invasive surgery in which only the damaged compartment of the knee is replaced with an implant.

The knee can be divided into three compartments: patellofemoral, the compartment in front of the knee between the knee cap and thigh bone, medial compartment, on the inside portion of the knee, and lateral compartment which is the area on the outside portion of the knee joint.

Surgical Procedure

Your surgeon will determine your eligibility based on your history, physical examination and diagnostic study reports.

During the surgery, a small incision is made over the knee to expose the knee joint. Your surgeon will remove only the damaged part of the meniscus and place the implant into the bone by slightly shaping the shin bone and the thigh bone. The plastic component is placed into the new prepared area and is secured with bone cement. Now the damaged part of the femur or thigh bone is removed to accommodate the new metal component which is fixed in place using bone cement. Once the femoral and tibial components are fixed in proper place the knee is taken through a range of movements. The muscles and tendons are then repaired and the incision is closed.

Post-Operative Care

You may walk with the help of a walker or cane for the first 1-2 weeks after surgery. A physical therapist will advise you on an exercise program to follow for 4 to 6 months to help maintain range of motion and restore your strength. You may perform exercises such as walking, swimming and biking but high impact activities such as jogging should be avoided.  

Benefits

The benefits of a minimally invasive knee replacement may include:

  • Smaller incision
  • Less blood loss
  • Quick recovery
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Better overall range of motion
  • Feels more like a natural knee

Risks and Complications

Possible risks and complications associated with minimally invasive partial knee replacement include:

  • Knee stiffness
  • Infection
  • Blood clots (Deep vein thrombosis)
  • Nerve and blood vessel damage
  • Ligament injuries
  • Patella (kneecap) dislocation
  • Plastic liner wears out
  • Loosening of the implant
  • American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC)
  • American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Maryland Medical Center