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Are Partial Knee Replacements Effective?

Are Partial Knee Replacements Effective?

Does your knee need replacing? If so, should you get a partial knee replacement or a full knee replacement? If you’re wondering if partial knee replacements are effective, the answer is yes — especially if you’re fairly young or fairly old.

At The Institute for Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine, experienced knee doctor in San Francisco Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht evaluates knee injuries and lets you know if you’re a good candidate for a partial knee replacement, which is much less intensive than full knee reconstruction. By relying on a qualified knee surgeon, San Francisco residents can experience mobility once more.

Anatomy of the knee

Your knee contains three different compartments. For some people, only one compartment is damaged, whether by an injury or from osteoarthritis. In others, two or three compartments are damaged. 

The compartments are:

  1. The lateral compartment on the outside of the knee
  2. The medial compartment on the inside middle of the knee
  3. The patellofemoral compartment, which includes the kneecap

Partial knee replacement can be done if the damage is confined to one compartment. In older people who need the least severe surgical option possible, and in young people who want to be highly active post-surgery, partial knee replacement can be the better choice, as only the damaged cartilage in a single compartment is replaced with a prosthesis or implant. 

Benefits of partial knee replacement

Partial knee replacement is a faster, less complex surgery than complete knee replacement. Since more of the knee's internal structure is maintained, recovery and restoration of mobility happens more quickly and fully. 

Partial knee replacement is appropriate if only the lateral or only the medial compartment is damaged. The replacement covers the inside or outside of the knee, whichever is affected. 

People who have damage in more than one compartment, or who need a knee replacement because of the patellofemoral compartment, typically get a full knee replacement instead.

Someone who has a partial knee replacement — especially if they’re younger— can still get a complete knee replacement later in life if other compartments in the knee become compromised. This makes a partial replacement worth it, because there’s a chance that further surgery won’t be needed. For much older patients, partial knee replacement is often preferable from a recovery standpoint, as the surgery is much faster and causes less tissue trauma. 

Recovery from partial knee replacement

As long as the surgery went as expected, we instruct patients to start gently moving their knee the day of the surgery. Knee function should return rapidly, and Dr. Halbrecht will have you work with a local physical therapist. You can get back to full activity in just six to eight weeks with a partial knee replacement.

To get a proper evaluation of your knee replacement options by a top orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco, and to learn more about your options, get in touch with IASM. Call us at 415-233-7996, or book a consultation online

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