Partial vs. Full Knee Replacement Surgery: Which Is Right for You?

EmergeOrtho specializes in a variety of advanced knee replacement surgeries and techniques, but the two most common knee replacement surgeries are partial knee replacements and full knee replacements.

Unsure of the differences or which type of knee replacement is right for you?

EmergeOrtho’s board-certified, fellowship-trained Joint Replacement Orthopedic Surgeons have the answers. Our specialists have years of experience in performing successful knee replacement surgeries. Our modern approach to knee replacement surgery (which utilizes innovative techniques like robotically assisted or computer-assisted navigation) provides patients with a multitude of benefits, including a faster recovery time and smaller incision site.

After an in-depth consultation, our experts will develop an individualized knee replacement treatment plan aimed at restoring functionality and relieving pain, helping you Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better.

Knee Replacement Basics

One of 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.

Full (Total) Knee Replacement Surgery

Traditional full knee replacement involves four steps:

  1. A vertical incision is made over the knee to expose the joint.
  2. The damaged cartilage surfaces are removed, as well as some small areas of underlying bone.
  3. 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.
  4. A special polymer plastic spacer is inserted between the metal components to ensure smooth movement.

Partial Knee Replacement Surgery

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

Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement Surgery

With today’s medical advancements, EmergeOrtho is proud to offer the latest innovations in knee replacement surgery, which includes a minimally invasive option.

The surgical procedure is similar to its traditional counterpart, except for a few key differences:

  • The surgery is performed with special, miniature instruments.
  • The tissue surrounding the knee is cut less.
  • The technique used to open the knee is less invasive.

This approach may provide many benefits to the patient, including a smaller incision, less trauma, and a quicker recovery time.


Visit the region’s leading experts to learn more about your knee replacement options. To schedule an appointment at one of our locations, click here.

Medical Advice Disclaimer

This website does not provide medical advice. The information on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For questions regarding a medical condition or treatment, seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers. Never disregard professional medical advice because of something you read on this website. If you need medical advice or treatment, click here to schedule an appointment.