Human knee is divided into three parts namely medial compartment, lateral compartment and patellofemoral compartment. Medial and lateral compartments of the knee are the inner and outer portions of the meeting place of your thigh bone and your shinbone. The third compartment of the knee joint is the portion where the knee cap meets the front side of the femur. Medial compartment is the part that is most frequently affected by arthritis. Lateral compartment is less frequently affected by arthritis and arthritis confined to patellofemoral compartment is a rare case.
In unicondylar knee replacement only that part of the knee which is damaged is replaced with plastic and metal substitutes. If the damage of the knee is limited to one compartment of your knee joint, then your surgeon may suggest that a unicondylar knee replacement will be sufficient for you. Patients who are having swelling and stiffness in the knee joint or a damaged ligament are not suitable for unicondylar knee replacement. This procedure is suggested by physicians, only to patients whose cartilage is not damaged and the bone portion in the joint is not disturbed.
Advantages of unicondylar knee replacement:
Faster recovery: Since the incisions and materials replaced in this surgery are smaller in size it does not take much time for recovery.
Less pain and blood loss: As the incision is small and the surgery is simpler in nature, the pain associated with this surgery will be lesser. Similarly the blood loss in this surgery will be very less compared to other surgeries done for knee replacement.
Disadvantages of partial knee replacement: The main disadvantage of this surgery is that if arthritis develops in other compartments of the knee joint where there was no arthritis when unicondylar knee replacement was done, a total knee replacement will become unavoidable.