About Uni-compartmental Knee Arthroplasty
After many years of activity and hard work, possibly a couple injuries, your knee can wear out. When x-rays confirm that the cartilage and meniscus (cushion in your knee) are thin and degenerative, the common diagnosis is degenerative joint disease of the knee. If it only involves one side of your knee and the other parts of your knee are perfect, then you may be a candidate for a uni-compartmental knee arthroplasty (UNI). This means that we can replace only one part of your knee, either inside (medial) or outside (lateral). The alternatives are to live with it or possibly have the whole knee replaced, if that is an option your surgeon presents to you.
UNI or Partial Knee Replacement Benefits
The benefits and advantages of a UNI include the following:
- Relieving pain in the area we replace
- Buying more time before we have to replace the whole knee
- A more natural-feeling knee, because you get to keep your ACL (a ligament needed for running and jumping)
- Easier recovery (one day in the hospital and faster rehabilitation at home)
The disadvantages to UNI can include the following:
- Partial pain relief
- Continued wear in the other parts of the knee that aren't replaced
- Another operation to replace all of the knee (total knee arthroplasty). If you are young enough to need this, it is usually in an average of 7-10 years, but hopefully not earlier than five years.
Typically, you will have surgery and go home the next day from the hospital. You will have a physical therapist to do exercises with, or they will teach you how to do them on your own. Stiffness is not as big of a problem as it can be when we replace the whole knee. Infection, however, is always a concern whenever we put metal into someone's body. Also, as long as you are up and active, blood clots in the leg are very rare.
You will be seen two weeks from surgery for your staples to be removed, then again at six weeks from surgery to see the surgeon and check x-rays. You'll be allowed to drive at two to three weeks from surgery, return to work when you feel ready and stop using a cane when you can walk well without a limp. Full activities can be resumed at six weeks from surgery, as tolerated.