What’s the difference between total and partial knee replacement?

partial-vs-total-knee-replacement-surgeryCurrently, there are approximately 80,000 knee replacement procedures performed in the UK every yearOsteoarthritis is the damage of the surfaces of our joints and during a knee replacement operation the worn ends of the bones and damaged cartilage are removed and replaced with metal and plastic replacement joints. Indications for this surgery are the pain and limited range of movement associated with osteoarthritis, but there are several different variations and techniques available and long-term success is dependent on choosing the right procedure for you.

Total knee replacement vs partial knee replacement

The knee is composed of three separate compartments – the inside of the knee, known as the medial compartment, the lateral compartment on the outside of the knee and the patellofemoral compartment, found on the front of the knee.
In the knee only one compartment can be affected – usually the medial compartment – and, for these patients, a partial knee replacement may be appropriate.

During a partial knee replacement, the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments are preserved, whereas in a total knee replacement they will be removed. Preserving as much of the body’s natural tissue and structure is always the aim of any surgical intervention.

At our London knee clinic, the degree of damage to the knee will be fully assessed, but a good candidate for a partial knee replacement will also be of a healthy weight and still have a good range of motion.

Risks and benefits of total knee replacement and partial knee replacement surgery

A partial knee replacement procedure is a less invasive procedure so less damage to the bone and soft tissue, fewer possible complications and a faster recovery. Typically, there will be better range of movement once recovered.

The big difference between a partial and total knee replacement is that there is a higher risk of revision for a partial replacement and any revision procedure has a higher chance of complications and worsening of function afterwards.

The non-surgical alternative to knee replacement surgery

Knee replacement surgery is not always the only option for those suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. There is a ‘shelf life’ for an artificial joint and the earlier you have a knee replacement, the greater the chance you’ll have to undergo further surgery in the future.

Knee surgeon Mr Jonathan Webb will always advise you on the surgical options and explain the pros and cons of having surgery or delaying it until later. To arrange a consultation at either our London or Bristol knee clinics, call 08450 60 44 99 to speak to Mr Webb’s secretary.