Knee replacement surgery – what are your options?

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When faced with the prospect of knee replacement surgery, most of us assume that it will be a full knee replacement. But is that really the best thing for everyone? Increasingly, research suggests that a partial knee replacement may actually be a better option for a lot of people.

What does a knee replacement involve?

Knee replacement is a common surgical intervention, generally offered when a patient suffers from osteoarthritis, where the cartilage or connective tissue has worn away and is causing pain and mobility problems. We often think of osteoarthritis as something that only older people suffer from, but in fact, many younger people also have this condition. When it affects all three compartments of the knee, a full replacement makes sense. But if the condition is affecting only part of the knee instead of all of it, a partial replacement (or unicompartmental replacement) could be an option.

Partial knee replacement surgery

The surgery is less invasive, as your own ligaments are retained, which can lead to a faster recovery time and less risk of complications. Physical therapy will still be needed, but patients can return to independent mobility sooner. However, there can be a higher possibility of needing further surgery in future than with a full replacement.

Currently, the vast majority of patients (around 90%) undergo a full replacement. But why is this? The main reason is that many patients are simply not suitable candidates for a partial replacement. However, it is worth considering other reasons. It could be that patients are worried that a partial replacement will only mean they will need surgery again in the future, and feel that they should just get it all done at once, where it is possible that they may not need to. Potentially some patients are unaware of this as a choice, believing that a full replacement is the only possibility.

Speak to your surgeon

To remove doubt and understand all the options available, it’s vital to speak to your surgeon, to ask questions and find out everything you need to know about your procedure, so that you can decide the best way forward.

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