Knee Replacement

Types of Knee Replacement

There are many different types and designs of artificial knees. Most consist of three components:

  • the femoral component, which is the part that attaches to the thigh bone
  • the tibial component, the part that attaches to the shin bone
  • the patellar component, the knee cap.

Total and Partial Knee Replacement

Knee replacement may be either total or partial/unicompartmental.

In total knee replacement, as the name suggests, the entire knee joint is replaced. You will likely need a total knee replacement if you have damage to several parts of your knee.

In partial/unicompartmental knee replacement, the surgeon replaces just the damaged part of the knee. You may be able to have a partial knee replacement if only one section of your knee is damaged. However, when one part is replaced, there is a chance that another part will develop arthritis, requiring further surgery.

Cemented and Uncemented Joint Components

Joint components may also be attached to your own bone in different ways. Most are cemented with a special joint glue into your existing bone; others rely on a process called biologic fixation to hold them in place. This means that the parts are made with a porous surface, and over time your own bone grows into the joint surface to secure them. In some cases, surgeons use a combination of cemented and uncemented parts. This is referred to as a hybrid implant.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

While some knee replacement surgery requires an 8- to 12-inch incision in the front of the knee, surgeons at many medical centers are now performing what is called minimally invasive surgery using incisions of 3 to 5 inches or even smaller. Because the incision is smaller, there may be less pain and a shorter recovery time. If you think you might be interested in minimally invasive surgery, speak with your surgeon.