The knee is a large and complex joint that is constantly under enormous strain. It supports the weight of your body while facilitating movement and providing stability. This critical role it plays also makes it prone to injuries from overuse, trauma, degenerative conditions, and the natural ageing process.
Knee injuries can often be debilitating and limit mobility and daily activities. Minor injuries can be treated with rest and physical therapy. However when injuries are severe enough to cause chronic pain, mobility impairment, or extensive joint damage, then a knee replacement surgery in Singapore is usually the last viable option. The two main types of knee replacement surgery are partial knee replacements and total knee replacements.
Let’s dive into both these procedures to find out what they are, how they are different, and the benefits and drawbacks of both.
The two types of knee replacements
A total knee replacement first involves the complete removal of the damaged joint surfaces in all three compartments of the knee. Then, an artificial joint either made of metal or plastic is implanted into the knee to restore functionality.
A partial knee replacement is similar except that only specific damaged areas, either the inside or outside, are removed and replaced with an artificial implant. Understanding the differences between these procedures is crucial for patients and their healthcare providers to make informed decisions.
Partial knee replacements
Wherever possible, partial knee replacements are preferred over total knee replacements for suitable candidates. Partial replacements are less invasive as only one compartment of the damaged knee is removed. It preserves the healthy parts of the knee, which means a smaller incision and less disruption to the surrounding tissues. This also leads to a lower risk of complications.
Recovery time and healing from a partial knee replacement is much faster than from a full knee replacement surgery. Partial knee replacements may require 1-2 days of hospital stay after the procedure while full knee replacements need closer to 3-4 days. Patients may return to their normal activities after 4-6 weeks as compared to 3-6 months for a full knee replacement. You are also likely to live a more active life with a partial knee replacement as it preserves your range of motion and knee function much better.
There are a few downsides to partial knee replacement surgery which need to be carefully considered. Partial knee replacements may have a slightly higher risk of earlier loosening and the need for revision, although the overall risk is still low. However the main drawback of partial knee replacements is the fact that not everyone can be a suitable candidate.
To qualify for a partial knee replacement, patients should not have extensive damage that affects multiple knee joints. Other factors such as poor knee alignment, ligament instability, limited range of motion, or excessive deformity, may make total knee replacement a more appropriate option for some patients.
Total knee replacements
For patients who have extensive damage in multiple areas of the knee, total knee replacements are almost always recommended. This is especially true for conditions like advanced osteoarthritis which can affect multiple compartments of the knee joint.
Advanced osteoarthritis causes severe pain, mobility issues, and significant impairment. Total knee replacements in Singapore may help to relieve pain and restore quality of life for patients as they may be able to return to their normal activities after recovering from the procedure. Osteoarthritis can also cause deformities to the knee, such as severe bowing, which may be a contraindication for partial knee replacement.
If there is significant damage to articular surfaces, cartilage, ligaments, and other structures of the knee joint, a partial replacement may not adequately address the issues and a total knee replacement could be a more viable option. Modern knee implants are engineered to be durable and long lasting and may provide improved knee function for 15-20 years.
The decision to choose either a partial or full knee replacement is one that has to be carefully considered with your orthopaedic surgeon. Factors such as severity of the knee injury, impact on daily life, patient’s overall health, and specific needs of the patient need to be taken into account before a surgical approach is chosen. For patients, it’s important that you are supplied with all the relevant details so you can make an informed decision about the procedure.
Dr Kannan Kaliyaperumal is an orthopaedic doctor with extensive experience for lower limb disorders and surgical treatment in Singapore and the region. Contact us today to learn more about our services and reach out to us to make an appointment.