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Unicompartmental (partial) knee replacement

Back to What are the different types of knee replacement surgery?

If arthritis affects only one side of your knee – usually the inner side – it may be possible to have a unicompartmental (partial) replacement. It's a less complicated operation than a total knee replacement which usually means a quicker recovery and better function, and it also gives the same level of pain relief as a total knee replacement but with less bruising and scarring. The range of movement is often as good as before the operation and usually better than that of a total knee replacement.

Partial knee replacements can often be carried out through a smaller cut (incision) than a total knee replacement, using techniques called reduced invasive or minimally invasive surgery. A smaller incision may
further reduce the recovery time.

Partial knee replacement isn’t suitable for everyone because you need to have strong, healthy ligaments within your knee. Sometimes this won’t be known until the time of surgery.

You're more likely to need your knee revised if you have a unicompartmental knee replacement than patients who have a total knee replacement – about 1 person in 10 needs further surgery after 10 years. If you're not satisfied with a partial knee replacement it's usually easier to revise the partial replacement to a total replacement than to revise a painful total knee replacement.

For these reasons, unicompartmental knee replacement is preferred for younger patients, who are more likely to need further surgery at some point. But it may also be used in some older patients because it’s a less stressful operation. The outcome of the surgery, however, depends on the type of arthritis and not the age of the patient.

 A unicompartmental knee replacement

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