Partial knee replacement is a less invasive alternative to total knee replacement. Partial knee replacement may be an option for patients who have severe arthritis of the knee that is confined to a limited area.
The procedure removes only the most damaged areas of cartilage in a specific area of the knee and replaces these surfaces. Partial knee replacement requires a smaller incision than traditional total knee replacement and has a quicker recovery time.
The knee has three compartments or surfaces. The femur — the long bone of the thigh — ends with two "knuckles" or condyles. Where these condyles connect with the shin bone forms two of the compartments. The third compartment is the underside of the kneecap.
If a patient's arthritis is confined to one of these compartments, partial knee replacement may be an option. Because only the damaged surface of the knee joint is replaced, trauma to healthy bone and tissue in the knee is minimized and recovery may be quicker than recovery for total knee replacement.