What is the Difference Between A Partial and Total Knee Replacement?

Total knee replacement is one of the common solutions for knee osteoarthritis, which involves the deterioration of articular cartilage. One of the primary factors in differentiating if a candidate should receive either a partial or total knee replacement is where the pain is located.

If the knee pain is isolated to either the inside portion or outside portion of the knee, then the patient might be a candidate for a partial or unicompartmental knee replacement. However, if severe knee pain exists throughout the whole knee, or towards the front of the knee underneath the kneecap, then a total knee replacement may be the necessary solution for the patient.

The knee is divided into three main components:

  • Medial compartment (inside section of the knee)
  • Lateral compartment (outside section of the knee)
  • Patellofemoral compartment (the front section of the knee between the kneecap and thighbone)

With a partial knee replacement, only the affected compartment of the knee is replaced. However, a total knee replacement encompasses the replacement of all three compartments of the knee.

When it comes to ligaments, anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments are left the same in a partial knee replacement, but in a total knee replacement, they are completely removed.

Determining if You’re A Candidate for a Partial or Total Knee Replacement

The ideal patient for a knee replacement surgery has a few commonalities: 60 or older, 180 pounds or less, not very active, minimal deformity and an overall good range of motion prior to surgery. It is also important that those with inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, avoid these procedures.

There have been improvements in the design of unicompartmental prostheses over the years. It is ideal to have an orthopedic surgeon that is well experienced in working in both full and partial knee replacements.

At the end of the day, the overall success of the knee replacement depends on how right the patient is for the procedure.

Contact Dr. Likover in order to assess if you are a good candidate for a partial or total knee replacement.