Partial knee replacement, also known as unicompartmental knee replacement, is a surgical procedure used to treat arthritis or damage in one compartment of the knee joint while preserving the healthy portions of the knee. The conventional approach and treatment for partial knee replacement typically involve the following steps:
- Diagnosis and Evaluation - The first step is a thorough evaluation of the patient's condition. This involves a physical examination, review of medical history, and diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans to assess the extent of damage and determine if the patient is a suitable candidate for partial knee replacement.
- Preoperative Preparation - Once the decision for partial knee replacement is made, the patient undergoes preoperative preparation. This may involve medical optimization, including managing any underlying health conditions and ensuring that the patient is in optimal health for surgery.
- Anaesthesia - On the day of surgery, the patient is administered anaesthesia. Depending on the case and patient preference, either general anaesthesia (which puts the patient to sleep) or regional anaesthesia (spinal or epidural anaesthesia) may be used.
- Incision and Exposure - A small incision is made over the affected knee to gain access to the damaged compartment. The surgeon carefully exposes the knee joint while minimising damage to surrounding tissues.
- Resurfacing and Implantation - The damaged portion of the knee joint, including the affected cartilage and bone, is removed. The surfaces are then reshaped to prepare them for the implant. A metal or plastic implant, designed to replicate the missing portion of the knee joint, is precisely placed and secured.
- Closure - After the implant is positioned, the incision is closed with sutures or staples, and a sterile dressing is applied.
- Postoperative Care - Following surgery, the patient is monitored in a recovery area until the effects of anaesthesia wear off. Pain medication and antibiotics may be prescribed to manage pain and prevent infection. Physical therapy and rehabilitation are initiated to regain strength, range of motion, and function in the knee joint.
- Follow-up and Recovery - Regular follow-up visits with the surgeon are scheduled to monitor the progress of healing and rehabilitation. The patient is guided through a personalised recovery plan, which may include ongoing physical therapy, exercises, and lifestyle modifications.
It is important to note that the conventional approach for partial knee replacement may vary based on the surgeon's preference and the specific needs of the patient. Surgical techniques and advancements continue to evolve, and some surgeons may employ minimally invasive approaches or use robotic assistance to enhance precision and patient outcomes. Dr Rajesh Malhotra is the right orthopaedic surgeon for the most up-to-date information on the approach and treatment for conventional partial knee replacement.