Some patients who have failed a thorough non-operative therapeutic programme and still have pain that is intolerable, will not require a total joint replacement. That is, of the three compartments in the joint – the medial compartment, the lateral compartment and the patellofemoral compartment – it may be that only one of those compartments is truly degenerate.
In this special circumstance, a so-called “partial knee replacement” can be performed. It is usually restricted to the medial compartment of the knee but sometimes it can be performed in the lateral compartment or the patellofemoral compartment.
The invasiveness of the procedure is usually less than a total knee replacement. The recovery is usually faster.
The results of partial knee replacement, whilst good, are not necessarily as good as those for a total knee replacement.
In addition, should a partial knee replacement fail and it requires conversion to a total knee replacement, the results are even less certain.
For these and many other reasons, not all Orthopaedic Surgeons favour partial knee replacement.
This is an issue that you should discuss very carefully with your Orthopaedic Surgeon.