Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement
Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement Overview
Knee replacement surgery is one of the most successful modern orthopedic procedures. (Orthopedics is the branch of medicine dealing with the bones.) Knee replacement surgeries use modern biomaterials. Biomaterials are synthetic or partially synthetic materials that are used to take the place of parts within the body. Use of these modern materials has allowed knee replacements to last well in appropriately selected patients. However, pain and other side effects associated with the surgical procedure remain a concern for many people. In particular, people are concerned about the uncomfortable physical therapy that is often required after knee replacement surgery to regain muscle strength and mobility.
New and improved anesthesia techniques, as well as pain management medications and methods, have reduced pain and improved recovery after knee replacement surgery. Any method of speeding up recovery after surgery is desirable, as many people are anxious to return to their day-to-day activities.
Minimally invasive knee replacement surgery is a term that is commonly used to describe several variations of existing surgeries. These procedures are redesigned to reduce the tissue trauma associated with surgery. The goal is to reduce postoperative discomfort, speed up discharge, and reduce the need for physical therapy.
Total knee replacement surgery is different from partial knee replacement surgery. Partial knee replacement surgery is often referred to as unicompartmental knee replacement. In partial knee replacement, only the inside or outside of the knee joint is replaced, as the name would suggest. Usually, the inside of the knee wears out first. In some people, just this part of the diseased cartilage is replaced. Partial knee replacement is performed with small incisions. The ligaments and other structures in the knee are preserved. In partial knee replacement, recovery is faster and the scar is smaller than for total knee replacement. However, few people meet the strict requirements for partial knee replacement. Only 5% or fewer of people who have knee arthritis are good candidates for partial knee replacement procedures.
For some people with knee arthritis, a unispacer might be appropriate. A unispacer is a device inserted into the diseased knee joint. It acts like a spacer, or shim, to separate the worn-out knee surfaces. As with partial knee replacement procedures, few people actually meet the requirements for a device like the unispacer. For most people with advanced knee arthritis, if pain is not relieved with other treatments, a total knee replacement that replaces all of the diseased cartilage is the best long-term option.
B Sonny Bal, MD
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