Partial & Total Knee Replacement FAQ

What is a knee replacement? How do you know if you need a knee replacement? When should you have the surgery? These and other frequently asked questions are answered in the following Partial and Total Knee Replacement FAQ.

What is a knee replacement?

A knee replacement is a modern surgical knee resurfacing procedure in which the worn out, damaged or diseased portion of the knee is removed and replaced with an implant. Patients undergo knee replacement surgery to relieve severe, chronic knee pain and restore mobility and range of motion. Knee replacement surgery can also correct bowleg deformity and knock knee deformity occurring with advanced arthritis, and is often performed to prevent further damage to the knee.

What is a partial knee replacement surgery? What is a unicompartmental knee replacement?

A unicompartmental knee replacement is often called a partial knee replacement because only the worn out part of the arthritic knee joint is replaced. If only one of the three compartments in your knee is worn out, you may be a candidate for the less invasive partial knee replacement.

When performing a partial knee replacement, the surgeon will save as much of the natural knee as possible. This
procedure is typically performed on an out-patient basis, although some patients may need to spend a night or two in the hospital. Read about the Oxford partial knee replacement.

What is a total knee replacement, what’s the difference?

If more than one part of your knee is worn out, you may need a total knee arthroplasty, more commonly known as a total knee replacement, or TKR. In a total knee replacement, a more invasive surgical procedure, the damaged cartilage and bone are removed and replaced with an implant system. Basically, the whole knee joint is replaced. The surgical incision is larger, the surgery is more complex and the recovery takes longer.

What ligaments are removed in a total knee replacement? Is the ACL Removed?

That depends on what type of TKR procedure you have and the surgeon performing it. Although a posterior cruciate
retaining knee replacement procedure has been available for years, many surgeons cut both major ligaments, the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Dr. Likover has rarely cut the PCL since the procedure became available, and he now performs the most advanced knee replacement available, a PCL and ACL sparing total knee replacement.

The new Vanguard XP knee replacement, available as of 2014, preserves both major cruciate ligaments for more natural stability and normal motion of the knee. Special training is required to perform this new type of knee replacement. Since many orthopedic surgeons today have not received the training, they are not qualified to perform the procedure.

When do you need a knee replacement? How do you know?

If you are suffering with persistent or reoccurring knee pain, you have difficulty with walking and other normal
activities, your knee is stiff and swollen or leg is bowed, and/or medications and therapy are not providing enough relief, it may be time for a knee replacement. Talk to an orthopedic specialist. Discuss your options.

Who is a candidate for knee replacement?

When chronic knee pain and problems with mobility become unbearable, and non-surgical treatment methods are not working or are less effective, the patient is typically referred to an orthopedic surgeon. In many cases, osteoarthritis has resulted in severe bone damage and delaying surgery could lead to more damage, deformity or other repercussions.

After discussing the knee problems you are experiencing, your surgeon will perform tests and order imaging to see what is causing the problems and the extent of damage to your knee. These tests will also help your surgeon determine if surgery will address the root of the problems, and if so, what type of knee surgery is recommended. Age, the patient’s physical condition and other factors are also considered.

How long will a knee replacement last?

It varies depending on the type of knee replacement procedure you have, the implant used, and the patient’s age, weight, and activity level. Although there is no guarantee how long the medical device will last, typically a total knee replacement with cemented implant lasts about 15-20 years. For patients under 60, Dr. Likover has performed a porous bone in-growth Regenerex implant that does not use cement and has the potential to last a lifetime. In cases of a partial knee replacement, the Oxford implant has a limited lifetime warranty.

How many knee replacements can you have?

A knee replacement is performed once on a knee, although a revision can be performed a couple of different times, if necessary. A revision involves the replacement of a failed implant with a new one.

Can you tell me how to reduce swelling after knee replacement surgery?

Swelling is a normal part of the healing process. Do your post-op exercises as recommended. Take anti-inflammatory medication as prescribed. Lay down and elevate your leg on a pillow for 30 minutes to an hour daily. If you are sitting for an extended period of time, elevate your leg while sitting, if possible. Using an ice pack for about 20 minutes a few times each day will also help reduce the swelling and inflammation.

How much is a knee replacement, what does it cost?

The cost of a knee replacement varies significantly depending on the type of procedure, the length of the hospital stay and the hospital where the surgery is performed. The average total knee replacement costs about $49,500 in the U.S. A partial knee replacement costs about 10-20 percent less.

When was the first knee replacement?

The first knee replacement was performed in 1968. Numerous advancements through the years have significantly improved how the procedure is performed as well as the results. With advanced knee replacements, the new knee has a better chance of obtaining a full range of motion. It feels more like a natural knee.

Who is the best knee replacement surgeon?

Naturally, we believe Dr. Larry Likover is the best knee replacement surgeon. He has performed thousands of knee
replacements through the years, and is well-trained and highly skilled at what he does. People know Dr. Likover’s work and come from around the world for his knee replacements. Learn more about this Houston knee surgeon.

Have more questions not covered in this knee replacement FAQ? Contact us.