John Taliaferro, MD joined the EmergeOrtho Wilson practice in 2021, serving as a surgeon for the EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region Sports Medicine, Total Joint Replacement and General Orthopaedics Teams. He specializes in Total Hip and Total Knee replacements, including Partial Knee Replacements.
Among the most common reasons people undergo a knee replacement procedure is knee osteoarthritis (also known as “degenerative” or “wear-and-tear” arthritis). This is when the protective cartilage surrounding the bones wears away, causing painful bone-on-bone grinding. Osteoarthritis can occur throughout the knee or be confined to a single compartment. The knee has three main compartments:
- Medial Compartment (the inside part of the knee)
- Lateral Compartment (the outside part)
- Patellofemoral Compartment (the front of the knee between the kneecap and thighbone)
If the osteoarthritis occurs in one or two compartments only, a partial knee replacement may be the treatment of choice. If the osteoarthritis affects a significant portion of the knee (or all of the compartments), full knee replacement will likely be recommended.
Although this sounds like an intimidating procedure to undergo, it is actually one of the safest and most common modern surgeries. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the U.S. Over 90% of these knee replacements have successful functionality 15 to 20 years after the procedures took place.
Partial vs. Full Knee Replacement Surgery
Types of knee replacement surgeries fall into one of two categories:
- Partial Knee Replacement
- Full Knee Replacement
Traditional full knee replacement involves four steps:
- A vertical incision is made over the knee to expose the joint.
- The damaged cartilage surfaces are removed, as well as some small areas of underlying bone.
- The metal implants are inserted in the place of the removed cartilage and bone. If applicable, the kneecap is also resurfaced with a plastic button.
- A special polymer plastic spacer is inserted between the metal components to ensure smooth movement.
A partial knee replacement procedure is very similar to a full knee replacement procedure, except that the healthy cartilage and bones, as well as all of the ligaments, are preserved. Only the damaged cartilage is affected.
Benefits of a partial knee replacement surgery may include:
- Quicker recovery time
- Less postoperative pain
- Less blood loss
- More natural feeling
Partial Knee Replacement Recovery
For those who elect to undergo a partial knee replacement, many are able to walk without a cane or walker within 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. You will, however, need physical therapy for 3 to 4 months, which can be undertaken with EmergeOrtho’s in-house network of physical therapists.
Who is a Candidate For Partial Knee Replacement?
Patients with medial or lateral knee osteoarthritis can be considered for partial knee replacement. “Medial” refers to the inside compartment of the joint, which is the compartment nearest the opposite knee, while “lateral” refers to the outside compartment farthest from the opposite knee. Medial knee joint degeneration is the most common deformity of arthritis.
EmergeOrtho also provides advanced, minimally-invasive options for knee replacement surgery that includes a smaller incision, less trauma, and a quicker recovery time.
Dr. Taliaferro will be able to diagnose, recommend, and treat your specific condition with a tailored plan of action that will help you get back to enjoying a better quality of life.