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Care That Moves You

Aug 30 2015
Is Partial Knee Replacement an Option for You?

Knee replacement surgery is not uncommon. Hundreds of thousands are performed each year with the goal of reducing pain and restoring joint function for patients. Doctors Brett and Seth Greenky, orthopedic surgeons at St. Joseph’s Center for Orthopedic and Spine Care, explain not all patients are in need of a total knee replacement.

The human knee is divided into three compartments, and for a small percentage of patients experiencing difficulty in only one compartment, a partial, or unicompartmental knee replacement may be the best course of treatment. “There are circumstances where a partial knee replacement can relieve pain and postpone the necessity of a total knee replacement for the patient,” says Dr. Seth Greenky.  “As the American population ages and remains more active for a longer time, there is a subset of people for whom this option will allow them to maintain their activity level.”

In considering surgical interventions for the knee, surgeons evaluate x-rays and conduct a complete clinical exam. This exam includes an evaluation of the range of motion of the knee and questions about lifestyle such as level of pain, activity limitation, weight, and family history. “Partial knee replacement surgery is effective in certain situations; however, extenuating lifestyle or physical circumstances may preclude it from being an option,” explains Dr. Brett Greenky. “Knee replacement surgery greatly improves the quality of life for patients who are suffering, and therefore it is critical that the patient and surgeon work together on a careful diagnosis leading to the best treatment plan and outcome possible.”

The Greenkys highlight the most common advantages of the partial knee surgery as: less post-operative pain, quicker recovery and rehabilitation, and a shorter hospital stay; noting that as in any type of surgery each patient responds differently and individual recovery will vary. Another advantage is that the unicompartmental procedure preserves normal bone and cartilage in the rest of the knee that would typically be replaced in a total joint procedure. “Although there are benefits associated with the partial knee surgery, patients should be aware that it may not be a permanent solution. The longevity of the implant is shorter than that of a total knee replacement and that means there may be a need for more surgery in the future; this is also the case if arthritis occurs in the other compartments of the knee,” says Brett.

Robotic-Assisted Partial Knee Replacement

Technological advancements have led to the introduction of robotic-assisted surgery in orthopedics. “The use of robotics in knee replacement surgery is still relatively new, and requires a knowledgeable surgeon with experience in the traditional open surgery methods as well,” says Seth.  

Surgeons use computer mapping in conjunction with a robotic arm to resurface the diseased portion of the knee joint and insert the implant. According to Seth, “Robotic-assisted surgery can improve accuracy and placement of the implant and provides a certain level of predictability in outcomes for the surgeon and patient. As orthopedic surgeons, it is our hope that in time, this increased accuracy will work to extend the longevity of the prosthesis used in partial knee replacements.”  

Is Partial Knee Replacement an Option for You?

The Greenkys recommend that anyone experiencing knee pain make an appointment with their primary care physician for thorough evaluation. “The primary care physician is the first step to diagnosing the condition. The primary care physician will work with the patient to be certain that all non-surgical options have been investigated,” says Seth. “Following that evaluation the physician may make a referral to an orthopedic surgeon to further evaluation of conservative or surgical treatment options.”

For more information about orthopedics at St. Joseph’s visit The Center for Orthopedic & Spine Care online www.sjhsyr.org/ortho.


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