Partial knee replacement

Home » Our Services » Knee » Partial knee replacement

Rather than a total knee replacement, certain knee conditions can be treated with a partial knee replacement (or unicompartmental knee replacement). A partial knee replacement is a minimally invasive surgery in which only the damaged compartment of the knee is replaced with an implant. If, for example, arthritis is confined to a single compartment of the knee, a partial knee replacement is an advisable treatment option.

To know for sure whether a partial knee replacement is the best treatment option to pursue, our OrthoAspen elite-grade specialists will fully assess your symptoms. At OrthoAspen, we’re committed to finding a solution to get you back to what you love doing most—as effectively and safely as possible.

Causes & Symptoms

The knee can be divided into three compartments: patellofemoral—the compartment in front of the knee between the kneecap and thigh bone; medial compartment—on the inside portion of the knee; and lateral compartment—the area on the outside portion of the knee joint. When one of these areas of the knee has been compromised due to arthritis (inflammation of the joint), a partial knee replacement can help alleviate painful and uncomfortable symptoms.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis, often yielding symptoms such as:

  • Pain and inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty in mobility and range of motion
  • Knee deformities such as knock-knees and bow-legs

In addition to the diminishment of the cartilage, the bones in the knee can become thicker around the edges of the joint and may form bony “spurs.”

The exact cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, although the condition is more prevalent in older populations. There are several factors commonly associated with the onset of arthritis which may include:

  • Injury or trauma to the joint
  • Fractures of the knee joint
  • Increased body weight
  • Repetitive overuse
  • Joint infection
  • Inflammation of the joint
  • Connective tissue disorders

Your doctor will diagnose osteoarthritis based on medical history, results of a physical examination and X-rays. X-ray images typically show a narrowing of joint space in the arthritic knee.


In an effort to help reduce and eliminate symptoms of osteoarthritis, your OrthoAspen physician may first suggest non-surgical treatment options, which include:

  • Medications
  • Injections
  • Physical therapy

If conservative, non-surgical treatment remains unresponsive, your OrthoAspen surgeon may suggest partial knee replacement surgery. Multiple studies show that a majority of patients who are appropriate candidates for the procedure have favorable results.

The advantages of partial knee replacement over total knee replacement include:

  • Quicker recovery
  • Less pain after surgery
  • Less blood loss
  • Better bending ability (in many cases)
  • Smaller incision

Additionally, because the bone, cartilage and ligaments in the healthy parts of the knee remain, many patients report that a unicompartmental knee replacement feels more natural than a total knee replacement.

Traditional partial knee replacement surgery involves a small incision made over the knee to expose the knee joint. Only the damaged part of the meniscus is removed and the implant is then placed into the bone by slightly shaping the shin bone and the thigh bone. The plastic component is placed into the newly prepared area and is secured with bone cement. Then the damaged part of the femur (or thigh bone) is removed to accommodate the new metal component, which is fixed in place using bone cement.

Once the femoral and tibial components are fixed in their proper place, the knee is taken through a range of movements. The muscles and tendons are then repaired and the incision is closed.

Mako Robotic Arm-Assisted Surgery

At OrthoAspen, our surgeons are experienced and skilled in providing robotic-arm assisted technology. By utilizing Mako state-of-the-art technology, our patients receive a surgical plan designed specifically for their needs. After a CT scan is uploaded to the Mako system software, a 3D model of the patient’s knee is constructed. Your OrthoAspen surgeon utilizes this model to create an individually-tailored surgical plan.

Those who are experiencing early-to-mid-stage osteoarthritis are the best candidates for a Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted partial knee procedure. During the surgery, the robotic arm enables your surgeon to target the pre-defined area of damage with extreme precision, providing greater accuracy of placement and alignment of the implant.

Patients may walk with the help of a walker or cane for the first one to two weeks after surgery. A physical therapist will provide an exercise program to follow for four to six months. The plan will ultimately help maintain range of motion and restore strength. Exercises such as walking, swimming and biking, can eventually be incorporated, but high impact activities, such as jogging, should be avoided.

If you’d like to learn more about whether you qualify for a partial knee replacement and would like to schedule a consultation with one of our OrthoAspen knees specialists, simply begin by clicking here or call us at 970-544-1289.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400