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The knee is a joint that takes a significant amount of wear and tear over the course of a lifetime, which is why it is often one of the first joints in the body to become diseased or damaged. A painful knee that has lost much of its function can become problematic for you as you try to perform your daily tasks. Surgery is often the best treatment choice, but that doesn’t always have to mean full knee replacement. The Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio in Lima offers an alternative to complete replacement, known as unicondylar knee replacement, for patients that qualify for a less invasive procedure.

Overview of the Knee

The knee joint consists of multiple parts:

  • The inside of the knee (medial compartment)
  • The outside area (lateral compartment)
  • The front of the knee from the kneecap and thighbone (patellofemoral compartment)

When osteoarthritis occurs in the knee joint, it often affects just one of these compartments. Instead of replacing the entire joint, our surgeons can address only the damaged area. This approach allows for a less invasive procedure that restores the motion and function of the joint with less discomfort and downtime than traditional knee replacement.

What is Unicondylar Knee Replacement?

Unicondylar knee replacement, also known as partial or unicompartmental knee replacement, is surgery that replaces only the damaged portion of the knee joint. In most cases, this means smaller incisions can be used, which reduces postoperative pain, risk and recovery time. Partial knee replacement has been used for decades, but during its early years, it saw only mixed success. Over the past 25 years, improvements to both implant design and technique have resulted in a procedure that is very successful for patients suffering from arthritis and damage in just a portion of the knee. Because it is highly effective, we will offer this alternative to patients that qualify for the operation.

How Surgery is Performed

Unicondylar knee replacement may be performed using regional or general anesthesia and usually takes between one and two hours to complete. Your surgeon will create a small incision at the front of the knee and examine the components of your knee in more detail to verify only some of the compartments require replacement. If your surgeon determines partial replacement will serve your needs best, the operation will proceed. If more damage is found, a full knee replacement may be done instead. This possibility is discussed with you prior to your surgery, so you know what to expect.

Recovery After Unicondylar Knee Replacement

Once your surgery is over, we will move you to a recovery area where you can be monitored as the anesthesia wears off. In some cases, you can go home later that same day. Other patients may require a hospital stay of a day or two before they are ready to head home.

Pain and swelling should be expected after partial knee replacement, but you will have medication and instructions on how to care for your knee to keep you as comfortable as possible during the early part of the recovery process. You will start putting weight on the knee soon after your procedure, although you will need assistance like a cane or walker to move about for the first few weeks. You will also undergo supervised physical therapy to restore strength and motion to the joint over time. Most patients are ready to resume their regular schedules within about six weeks.

To learn more about this option, contact the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio today at 419-222-6622.