Monday, 28 of May of 2018

Total Knee Replacement vs. Partial Knee Replacement or Resurfacing – What’s the Difference?

If pain and stiffness in your knees is starting to make getting around increasingly difficult, the first step is to consult with an orthopedic surgeon. After tests confirm a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, the next step is to discuss your options with the doctor.

You might be surprised to learn that thanks to advances in technology, there are new options that are available as an alternative to total knee replacement. Younger patients and those with less advanced disease may be good candidates for an innovative technique called partial knee replacement or partial knee resurfacing.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, “most patients report that a partial knee replacement feels more natural and that the knee may bend better” than with a total knee replacement.

Whether you qualify as a candidate for a partial knee will depend primarily on the extent of damage from osteoarthritis.

Anatomy of the Knee

The knee has three compartments – an inside or medial compartment; an outside or lateral compartment; and a front or patellar (the kneecap) compartment. In some patients, damage from osteoarthritis may affect only one or two compartments of the knee, rather than all three. And for these patients, a partial knee replacement may be a good choice.

A partial knee is a minimally invasive procedure that replaces only one or two compartments of the knee, leaving the cartilage, ligaments and bone in other areas of the knee that are healthy intact. Most of the time, it is the medial and patellar, rather than the lateral compartments that are replaced or resurfaced.

During the procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged cartilage, as well as some bone from the tibia and femur, (the upper and lower leg bones). Then the ends of the bones are reshaped to accept the new implant. 

In contrast, a total knee replacement removes damaged tissue from all three compartments of the knee — replacing the entire joint with artificial implants.

Advantages & Disadvantages

There are many advantages to partial knee replacement or resurfacing, including:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Less trauma to the body
  • Reduced blood loss
  • Shorter hospitalization
  • Faster recovery time
  • Less need for physical therapy
  • Gentle exercises at home and walking restore mobility

What are the disadvantages? The biggest concern is the potential for cartilage in the remaining compartments to deteriorate at some point in the future, which would then require additional surgery.

To find out whether you might be a candidate for partial knee replacement, call Dr. Kagan at 239-936-6778 or go to For a more detail explanation on how the procedure is performed, go to

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