What was formerly a stepping stone to a total knee replacement is now a procedure of its own, one that can, for the right candidates, improve results while saving recuperation and rehabilitation time.
Dr. Edmund T. Carroll III of Orthopaedic Associates of Southern Delaware claims to be the only surgeon in the state to perform partial knee replacements: 800 since his first in July 2008. Unlike a full replacement, which requires losing one or two of the knee’s four ligaments and shaping both bones to accept a metal fixture, a partial replacement uses a custom-made fixture that allows the patient to keep all ligaments.
Less surgical trauma and better design of the implant result in a more natural functioning of the joint and a speedier recovery—half the time of a full replacement. That means returning to normal walking in six weeks instead of “just turning the corner at three months.”
The procedure isn’t for everyone, Carroll says, only patients whose damage from arthritis is limited to one particular compartment of the knee. But with more people expected to suffer from osteoarthritis in the near future, and at a younger age, the partial replacement may become more common.