About partial knee replacement surgery:
The knee joint is made up of three compartments, called the medial, lateral, and patellofemoral compartments. Partial knee replacement involves replacing one of the damaged compartments of your knee, rather than replacing the entire joint. For some people, partial knee replacement may be considered a suitable treatment option if you have arthritis in one compartment of the knee, but the other two compartments are still in good condition. There are several factors to consider in determining whether you may be suitable for partial knee replacement, with Mr Patten will discuss with you in detail. Partial knee replacement should not be considered as ‘halfway’ to total knee replacement; when performed in the appropriate patient, partial knee replacement can be a definitive operation that can work very well for many years.
During surgery, an incision between 10 and 15 centimetres long is made over your knee and the damaged compartment of your knee is replaced with artificial components. These are made of metal and sometimes also plastic, depending on which compartment is being replaced.
What to expect after partial knee replacement surgery:
You will remain in hospital for approximately two to five nights after the procedure. You will be given pain relief, intravenously (through a drip) and/or in tablet form. You will be able to put some weight through your knee immediately after surgery, and gradually increase this as you feel able.
A physiotherapist will see you during your admission and give you physiotherapy exercises. It is important that you follow your physiotherapy plan to allow you to regain movement of your knee throughout your recovery.
Inpatient rehabilitation is an option you may wish to pursue in your early recovery. The hospital’s rehabilitation coordinator will see you after surgery to discuss options with you. When you are ready, you may be transported to a rehabilitation ward or facility, where you will undertake guided physiotherapy and rehabilitation before being discharged home. Many patients prefer to discharge straight home from hospital to continue their recovery.
Some swelling and pain in the knee is to be expected and is best treated by elevating your leg when seated in the days after surgery. An ice pack applied for 20 to 30 minutes every few hours will greatly assist to reduce the swelling and pain around your knee.
You will generally need to use two crutches for two weeks or so after surgery. You may then go down to using a single crutch in the opposite hand to your operated knee for another week or two.
Prior to any invasive dental work (i.e. fillings, extractions, etc.) you should advise your dentist that you have a joint replacement, as antibiotic cover is recommended. Your dentist will implement their own antibiotic protocol in these cases. You do not need to take antibiotics for a scale and clean only.
Caring for your partial knee replacement wounds:
You will have a waterproof dressing over your incision which will need to remain in place for two weeks. You will have dissolving sutures in your wound which do not need to be removed.
A small amount of bleeding into the dressing is normal, however if you have concerns about excessive bleeding, apply pressure to your knee, rest, apply ice and elevate your leg. Please do not hesitate to contact our rooms if you have any concerns.
Do not have a bath or swim until Mr Patten has seen you in his rooms at your post-operative appointment and he has cleared you for such activities. For further information regarding wound management, please read the ‘post-operative wound management’ leaflet provided to you by our rooms before surgery.
Managing your partial knee replacement pain:
Pain is a normal part of the healing process after surgery and will slowly improve over time. In the early days following surgery you should rest and elevate the leg, as well as regularly ice your knee, as this will all significantly help to reduce pain and swelling.
On discharge from hospital you will be provided with some pain relief for pain control. For ongoing pain relief requirements, we suggest you arrange an appointment with your GP to obtain a prescription. After surgery you should take pain relief as long as you have pain, particularly when walking or at night. You may slowly taper down your pain relief requirements after several weeks as you feel able.
If you are concerned about your level of pain, please do not hesitate to contact our rooms for reassurance and to rule out a rare complication.
Recovery from partial knee replacement surgery:
Full recovery from partial knee replacement generally takes between four to six months but can vary from person to person.
The time you may require off work varies depending on the nature of your job. For sedentary, desk-based work you will likely require three to four weeks off work, whereas for more labor-intensive duties you will need to remain off work for approximately six to eight weeks.
You will generally be able to return to driving after about four weeks if your right knee was operated on. If you had surgery to your left knee, you can drive a manual car after approximately three weeks.
Partial knee replacement risks and complications:
Although uncommon, complications can occur. These include superficial wound infection, blood clot, or persistent pain or instability of the knee. Rare complications include injury to surrounding structures such as nerves or blood vessels, or infection within the knee joint (peri-prosthetic infection).
Over time a partial knee replacement can wear out or come loose, which may require further surgery.