Article by Richard J. Patterson, M.D.


Partial knee replacement is a procedure to address the arthritis pain in a limited area of the knee. Physicians divide the knee into three {compartments — patellofemoral compartment, medial tibiofemoral compartment and lateral tibiofemoral compartment. A patient with arthritis can have different compartments affected in a non-unifom fashion. More often than not, the medial compartment is most severely affected, followed by patellofemoral compartment.

A partial knee replacement resurfaces only the damaged area and preserves the majority of the native knee. The concept is that with more preservation of the native knee, the feel and function of the knee will be more normal. Furthermore, the incision is smaller and the recovery period is faster. If necessary, the partial knee replacement can easily be converted to a total knee replacement if the arthritis affects other compartments as time passes.

Partial knee replacement is not for everyone. Only your orthopaedic surgeon can tell if you would be a good candidate. The best candidates are patients who are younger, typically in their forties or fifties, with limited arthritis to just the medial or lateral compartment with an active lifestyle and significant arthritis pain.