Partial Knee Replacement vs. Complete Knee Replacement

If your knee arthritis is causing severe or frequent pain that limits your daily activity – or if you’re suffering from lack of normal mobility in your knee – you may benefit from knee replacement surgery. Yet there are different types of knee replacements. The two main kinds are partial knee replacement and complete knee replacement.

To better understand knee replacement surgery, here’s some basic anatomy. The human knee has three compartments – medial, lateral, and patellofemoral. The medial compartment is the inner portion of the knee, closest to the midline of your body, while the lateral compartment is located at the outside of your knee. The patellofemoral compartment is positioned at the front of your knee, between your kneecap and femur (thigh bone).

Partial Knee Replacement

Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend a partial knee replacement if only one of your knee compartments is suffering from degeneration or damage. This procedure is also known as a unicompartmental arthroplasty or unicompartmental knee replacement.

A partial knee replacement can provide several advantages over a complete knee replacement. For one, recovery time is often shortened with a partial knee versus a complete knee procedure. Furthermore, there is usually less blood loss during the surgery and less pain during the immediate recovery.

However, there are some potential drawbacks. For example, one or more of your other knee compartments may become diseased in the future, requiring further surgery. Also, if your preoperative knee pain is coming from multiple compartments, a partial knee replacement may fail to relieve all of your pain.


Complete Knee Replacement

A complete knee replacement – also called a total knee replacement, tricompartmental knee arthroplasty, or total knee arthroplasty – replaces all three of your knee compartments with metallic and plastic hardware. Your surgeon will recommend this procedure when arthritis has affected each of your knee compartments to the point that they need replacement.

Your recovery from a complete knee replacement may be somewhat longer than the recovery from a partial knee arthroplasty. The postoperative pain during your recuperation may also be greater than it would with a partial knee procedure.

However, there are also benefits to a total knee procedure. Since all three of your knee compartments are replaced, there is a greater likelihood that your preoperative pain, stiffness, and mobility issues will be resolved. Also, you are unlikely to need future surgery on a single compartment as all have now been resurfaced.


The Mako® Robotic Arm Can Be Used for Both Surgery Types

Robotic surgery is leading the way into the future of medicine with greater accuracy and reduced risks. The Mako robotic arm is one such technological advancement. This system can be used for both partial and complete knee replacements, as well as total hip replacement surgery.

The Mako system creates a three-dimensional image of your knee in great detail, serving as a guide for your orthopedic surgeon. This permits your surgeon to spare as much healthy tissue as possible. Dr. Derick Johnson at the Bone & Joint Center in Holland, Michigan is fully certified in the use of Mako for both types of knee replacement surgeries. Whether you need a partial knee replacement or total knee arthroplasty, Dr. Johnson has the experience and expertise to provide you with the highest quality surgical procedure.