Unicompartmental Knee Arthroplasty (Partial Knee Replacement)

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Unicompartmental Knee Arthroplasty (Partial Knee Replacement)

Knee pain can be debilitating, compromising not only your mobility but also your overall quality of life. While conservative treatments like medication and physical therapy can provide temporary relief, some patients require surgical intervention. In such instances, partial knee replacement surgery, also known as unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) or partial knee resurfacing, is a potential solution for those experiencing chronic knee pain.

What is the functional importance of Knee Anatomy?

The knee is a large, weight-bearing joint in your body, connecting two major bones, the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). The knee joint consists of three compartments: the medial compartment (inner part of the knee), the lateral compartment (outer part of the knee), and the patellofemoral compartment (between the kneecap and thigh bone).

The knee contains various cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and nerves, all of which help its function. The knee joint’s intricate structure allows for flexibility, stability, and weight-bearing functions, which are crucial for your daily activities. Almost all movements that use your legs rely on your knees – your knees are necessary for walking, running, jumping, or lifting.

Caption: The human knee is a sophisticated joint comprising various
structures that work harmoniously to facilitate mobility.
What is the most common cause of chronic knee pain?

While there are many possible causes of chronic knee pain, osteoarthritis, also known as wear and tear arthritis, is the most common cause of chronic knee pain in Singapore. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage that cushions and protects the ends of the thigh and shin bone wears away. This degradation leads to pain and stiffness that worsens over time, causing pain, stiffness, and instability when walking.

Here are several factors contributing to the development of osteoarthritis:

  • Ageing: As people age, the cartilage that cushions the knee joints begins to break down and lose its elasticity, making it susceptible to damage.
  • Obesity: Excess weight adds stress to the knee joints, contributing to the degeneration of the knee joints.
  • Sports Injuries or Joint Overuse: Repetitive stress on the knee joint accelerates the breakdown of cartilage. Research has shown accelerated cartilage degeneration amongst athletes, manual labourers, and individuals with physically demanding occupations or hobbies.
Partial knee replacement, also called unicompartmental knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure used to treat conditions, such as advanced arthritis in the knee joint. Unlike total knee replacement, which involves replacing the entire knee joint, partial knee replacement only involves replacing the damaged or diseased part of the knee joint with a prosthetic implant, preserving the knee’s healthy parts.

Caption: Media Compartment Parital Knee Replacement for Medial Compartment Arthiritis

Benefits of partial knee replacement include:

  • Boosts knee joint mobility: maintains good natural knee anatomy and range of motion, allowing for enhanced mobility and function post-surgery. This helps patients to return to normal activities gradually.
  • Effective pain relief: targets the source of pain directly, allowing for good pain relief.
  • Less invasive than total knee replacement: smaller incisions, less bone removal, faster recovery, and more natural knee function compared to total knee replacement. Many patients reported that the UKA surgery felt more natural than a total knee replacement.

While UKA offers numerous benefits, as with any other surgery, it comes with minor risks. Potential complications include infection, blood clots, implant failure, and fracture. However, with proper patient selection, surgical technique, and postoperative protocols, the risk of complications can be minimised.

Caption: X-ray image of a Patient post-UKA surgery

Our orthopaedic surgeon will usually recommend surgery for individuals who have gone through conservative treatments but still suffer from severe, long-lasting knee pain due to conditions like severe osteoarthritis.

Candidates for partial knee replacement typically have arthritis limited to one compartment of the knee, usually the medial compartment. They may experience symptoms such as pain, stiffness, swelling, and difficulty with activities like walking or climbing stairs.

However, it’s important to note that not all patients are recommended to have partial knee replacement, and the decision to undergo surgery should be made in consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon based on individual conditions and preferences.

Before the surgery, your orthopaedic surgeon will thoroughly examine whether you are a good candidate for partial knee replacement surgery.

These examinations include:

  • Checking Medical History: Your doctor will check your general health and range of motion and determine the location of your knee pain. UKA surgery may be performed if your pain comes from the inside or outside of your knee. However, total knee replacement might be a better-suited procedure if you have pain throughout the entire knee or under the kneecap.
  • Imaging tests: X-rays and MRI scans help your specialist determine the extent of the damage in your cartilage

UKA is often performed using minimally invasive techniques, resulting smaller incisions (8cm – 10cm) incisions, reduced tissue trauma, and quicker recovery times than total knee replacement.

  1. The surgical site is sterilised, and anaesthesia is administered to ensure the patient’s comfort.
  2. The orthopaedic surgeon makes a small incision and accesses the affected knee compartment.
  3. Specialised instruments are then used to remove the damaged bone and cartilage while preserving as much healthy bone and soft tissue as possible.
  4. The removal is followed by the precise placement of a prosthetic replacement that recreates the joint’s native anatomy and kinematics. UKA may involve replacing either the medial, lateral or patellofemoral compartment, depending on the location and severity of arthritis.
  5. After ensuring proper implant placement and stability, the incision is closed. Patients can ambulate on the same day after surgery.

Following UKA, patients undergo a rehabilitation program that focuses on restoring strength, flexibility, and function to the knee joint.

Physical therapy is critical for fast recovery, helping patients regain mobility and optimise surgical outcomes.

Summary

Partial knee replacement surgery represents a significant advancement in the field of orthopaedic surgery, offering a targeted and minimally invasive solution for individuals suffering from severe osteoarthritis and chronic knee pain. By preserving healthy tissue and focusing on the specific compartment of the knee affected by arthritis, partial knee replacement surgery can typically provide lasting relief and improved joint function.

Visit Alps Orthopaedic Centre

If you are considering partial knee replacement surgery as a treatment option, book an appointment with our experienced
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon,
Dr Jerry Chen, for a thorough assessment and treatment plan.

With partial knee replacement surgery, you can typically regain your mobility and enjoy a more active and fulfilling life.

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Dr Jerry Chen

MBBS (S’pore), MRCSEd, MMed (Ortho), FRCSEd (Ortho)

Fellowship-trained Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon & Medical Director

Why Alps Orthopaedic Centre?

At Alps Orthopaedic Centre, we specialise in Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS). Performed as a Day Surgery, the ERAS Direct Anterior Approach in Total Hip Replacement (THR) technique as well as ERAS Total Knee Replacement (TKR), reduces the average hospitalisation stay, utilising techniques which enable the patient to suffer from less pain and recover faster. We are an Orthopaedic clinic in Singapore, which specialises in ERAS and do our utmost to enable patients to return to everyday activities as early as possible. 

Our Orthopaedic clinic provides specialised diagnosis and effective treatment of musculoskeletal problems, especially Day Surgery / Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) For Hip and Knee Surgery, Sports Injuries and Trauma Fractures. If you are considering hip or knee surgery or minimally invasive treatments, book an appointment with our experienced Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr Jerry Chen, for a thorough assessment and treatment plan. 

Our aim is to boost patient well-being, optimising every aspect of the surgical journey. By minimising the recovery period, patients are able to go back to activities that they love. The Alps team offers comprehensive financial counselling sessions to ensure our patients understand their options and make informed decisions regarding their treatment plans.

Has this article been insightful? Share it!

Dr Jerry Chen

MBBS (S’pore), MRCSEd, MMed (Ortho), FRCSEd (Ortho)

Fellowship-trained Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon & Medical Director

Why Alps Orthopaedic Centre?

At Alps Orthopaedic Centre, we specialise in Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS). Performed as a Day Surgery, the ERAS Direct Anterior Approach in Total Hip Replacement (THR) technique as well as ERAS Total Knee Replacement (TKR), reduces the average hospitalisation stay, utilising techniques which enable the patient to suffer from less pain and recover faster. We are an Orthopaedic clinic in Singapore, which specialises in ERAS and do our utmost to enable patients to return to everyday activities as early as possible. 

Our Orthopaedic clinic provides specialised diagnosis and effective treatment of musculoskeletal problems, especially Day Surgery / Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) For Hip and Knee Surgery, Sports Injuries and Trauma Fractures. If you are considering hip or knee surgery or minimally invasive treatments, book an appointment with our experienced Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr Jerry Chen, for a thorough assessment and treatment plan. 

Our aim is to boost patient well-being, optimising every aspect of the surgical journey. By minimising the recovery period, patients are able to go back to activities that they love. The Alps team offers comprehensive financial counselling sessions to ensure our patients understand their options and make informed decisions regarding their treatment plans.

Has this article been insightful? Share it!

Dr Jerry Chen

MBBS (S’pore), MRCSEd, MMed (Ortho), FRCSEd (Ortho)

Fellowship-trained Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon & Medical Director

Why Alps Orthopaedic Centre?

At Alps Orthopaedic Centre, we specialise in Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS). Performed as a Day Surgery, the ERAS Direct Anterior Approach in Total Hip Replacement (THR) technique as well as ERAS Total Knee Replacement (TKR), reduces the average hospitalisation stay, utilising techniques which enable the patient to suffer from less pain and recover faster. We are an Orthopaedic clinic in Singapore, which specialises in ERAS and do our utmost to enable patients to return to everyday activities as early as possible. 

Our Orthopaedic clinic provides specialised diagnosis and effective treatment of musculoskeletal problems, especially Day Surgery / Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) For Hip and Knee Surgery, Sports Injuries and Trauma Fractures. If you are considering hip or knee surgery or minimally invasive treatments, book an appointment with our experienced Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr Jerry Chen, for a thorough assessment and treatment plan. 

Our aim is to boost patient well-being, optimising every aspect of the surgical journey. By minimising the recovery period, patients are able to go back to activities that they love. The Alps team offers comprehensive financial counselling sessions to ensure our patients understand their options and make informed decisions regarding their treatment plans.