Difference between Partial Knee Replacements Surgery and Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Partial Knee Replacements Surgery and Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement is becoming a common remedy which is generally offered to aged people, to get rid of uninvited knee troubles.  But, not every aged person requires knee replacement. So, before we discuss the major types of knee replacement, let us understand the circumstances that ask for it. Osteoarthritis is the most common ailment that causes the bones to degenerate. This again is caused due to obesity, when the bones are unable to bear the ever increasing weight. Often times cartilages, smooth muscles that reduce the friction between bones at joints and also absorb shocks do get damaged in accidents.Aging also causes cartilages to deteriorate. Once the cartilages are damaged, every knee movement becomes painful. Cartilages cannot be regrown by the body, and need external help. Hence, there arises the need for knee replacement in these conditions.

Normally in medical terms there are three compartments in a knee, namely medial (inside of the knee), lateral (outside of the knee) and patellofemoral (front of the knee).Partial knee replacement is also called as uni-compartmental surgery.

Need For Partial Or Total Knee Replacement Surgery:

When only one of the compartments gets damaged, partial knee replacement surgery is performed. The pre-requisite to partial knee replacement surgery is that the surrounding ligaments must be strong enough to naturally bear the weight and heal after any one of these compartments is changed. When two or three compartments get deteriorated due to arthritis or severe instability of ligament, there arises the need for total knee replacement surgery.

Procedure Involved: 

The procedure varies from case to case. But in general terms, in majority of case of total knee replacement, the entire knee joint is replaced with plastic or metal joint. By the entire knee joint, we mean the area between the end surface of femur (thigh bone) to the top of tibia (shin bone). In some cases the patella (the surface beneath a kneecap) needs to get replaced too. While a partial knee replacement surgery can be done through a small incision. This technique is either reduced invasive or minimally invasive.

Complexity of Surgery:

Traditionally, it has been thought that it’s easy to replace the whole knee as compared to replacing only a part of it. Because it is a small incision, it has to be performed with high precision and after conducting a thorough diagnosis. Performing partial knee replacement without analyzing the condition of a knee may result in failure of the surgery. Ligaments that seem able to cope with the change may fail to adapt. Total knee replacement surgeries are less complex because the whole joint is to be replaced, and it doesn’t depend on the strength of the natural ligaments.There’s a higher failure rate of partial knee replacement surgery than the total ones. Of course this will change with time.

Age-group for Surgery: 

In most cases, there’s no age-limit for partial knee replacement surgeries. Young people with smaller knee damages may opt for partial knee replacements, as under normal circumstances their ligaments that support the knee are naturally strong and adaptable. While the most common age-group for total knee replacement surgery is of the people aging 55-75 years. We can’t deny the fact that if a young person has had severe damage to a knee then he’s liable to undergo total knee replacement. And an aged person might go partial knee replacement, but it is very rare and not advisable.


As we can guess, smaller incision means faster recovery and vice-versa. Patients with smaller partial knee replacements may be up for routine tasks right after the surgery finishes, although the healing time is around four weeks. While for the total knee replacement surgery the healing time for performing day-to-day activities is nearly doubled (around eight weeks). In both the cases, a patient should avoid rigorous movements as complete healing of knees after both the surgeries takes about one year.


Patients who underwent partial knee replacement surgery experience greater flexibility of the joint as compared to their counterparts. Partial knee replacement patients can continue with their life as they used to before the surgery. Recreational sports like golf, swimming, tennis, skiing etc. are not to be scared of after the full recovery of one year. And partial knee replacement patients hardly feel any difference in their knee; it is as good as a natural knee. On the other hand, total knee replacement patients may also pursue sports but they can tell the difference between a natural and a replaced knee. It’s not as flexible as before.

It is advisable to consult a doctor before taking any permanent decisions. Uteshiya Medicare understands and supports you throughout the whole process of knee replacement, with its wide range of orthopedic implant options and an enthusiastic team.

Leave a Reply