Partial Knee Replacement

For patients with active lifestyles, osteoarthritis can be a debilitating diagnosis that wears away at the bones and causes immense pain. A degenerative condition also known as "wear-and-tear arthritis," osteoarthritis worsens over time as it breaks down the joint's protective cartilage. Protective cartilage is integral to musculoskeletal function, as it allows a joint to move through its range of motion without experiencing friction. Without it, bone rubs against bone, making movement extremely painful.

Because the knee is a weight-bearing joint, it is commonly affected by musculoskeletal problems, including osteoarthritis. Carrying excess weight can put significant strain on the joint, leading to an early degradation of the knee's components. Additionally, injury to the cartilage that lines the inside of the knee, known as the menisci, can eventually lead to deterioration of the joint, as the knee is less capable of protecting against routine wear-and-tear.

While Dr. Pritchett and his team employ a range of treatment approaches, including noninvasive efforts, the most severe cases may require a total knee replacement or partial knee replacement procedure.

Treating Osteoarthritis with Knee Replacement

Knee replacement is often an effective solution for many patients experiencing problems related to arthritis. Knee replacement, one of the safest surgical procedures performed today, can restore a patient's range of motion while reducing the amount of pain associated with movement.

The procedure involves the removal of the damaged, arthritic joint surface, and replacement with a prosthetic surface (implant), made of metal, ceramics, and durable plastic components. Patients pursuing knee replacement for arthritis generally report an increase in health-related quality of life, returning to the activities that were once painful, such as jogging, gardening, or playing sports.

Minimally Invasive Knee Surgery: Partial Knee Replacement

Many patients may be well suited for a minimally invasive approach to knee replacement that preserves healthy bone and can potentially provide a more natural feeling implant. When arthritis is confined to a single compartment within the knee, partial knee replacement (unicompartmental knee arthroplasty) may be a viable solution. This approach is preferred for patients who still want to pursue an active lifestyle after removal of the arthritic knee tissue.

In cases of partial knee replacement, a greater amount of the natural knee structure will be maintained. As a result, many patients will experience a faster recovery time, as well as a more natural feeling during post-op joint movement. As compared to those undergoing total knee procedures, unicompartmental replacement patients have a higher likelihood for later revision surgery, as ongoing degeneration will potentially impact additional areas of the knee joint. The positive trade off is a more natural feeling knee and a shorter recovery.

How Partial Knee Replacement Differs from Total Knee Replacement

Partial knee replacement is similar to total knee replacement; however, instead of replacing the entire knee joint surface, Dr. Pritchett will instead resurface only the arthritic compartment and leave the healthy parts of the knee intact. He then inserts the implant, which is significantly smaller than a total knee implant.

The type of knee replacement needed – total or partial – will be dependent on a number of factors such as the extent of the symptoms and degree of cartilage loss. Partial (unicompartmental) replacement will involve a single compartment, while total knee replacement will provide a new surface for all of the knee.

Patients who are candidates for partial knee replacement should be:

  • Not significantly overweight
  • Have intact knee ligaments
  • Experiencing pain in only one area of the knee

For patients with more extensive cartilage loss, a total knee replacement will be the best option for providing necessary relief. As more of the joint is touched during this surgery approach, recovery tends to be slower (than in comparison to a partial knee replacement) due to the larger amount of healing required. However, following the initial phase of recovery, over 90% of patients report dramatic pain reduction, as well as an improved ability to complete everyday physical activities.

In the case of both total and partial knee replacement, Dr. Pritchett and his team will employ advanced surgical techniques. Reported benefits to these approaches include, but are not limited to:

  • Limited blood loss
  • Decreased post-op pain
  • Expedited recovery time

Partial Knee Replacement Surgery in Seattle, WA

Not everyone is a candidate for partial knee replacement. Many patients are and Dr. Pritchett can best determine a treatment option that best suits the patient.

Dr. James Pritchett is one of the Seattle area’s most renowned knee surgeons, and has been in practice serving the Seattle area for more than thirty years. Dr. Pritchett has designed several knee prostheses including the most widely used and successful prosthesis in the world. He is a board-certified surgeon, specializing in joint replacement, joint resurfacing, and ligamentretaining knee replacement surgery.

To learn more about treatments for osteoarthritis of the knee, schedule an appointment with Dr. Pritchett at his Seattle office located in the Cabrini Medical Tower or in Kirkland. Please call our office at (206) 323-1900 to request an appointment.