Knee Replacement

Knee replacement, or knee arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace the weight-bearing surfaces of the knee joint to relieve the pain and disability of osteoarthritis. It may be performed for other knee diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. In patients with severe deformity from advanced rheumatoid arthritis, trauma, or long standing osteoarthritis, the knee surgery may be more complicated and carry higher risk. Osteoporosis does not typically cause knee pain, deformity, or inflammation and is not a reason to perform knee replacement.

In general, the surgery consists of replacing the diseased or damaged joint surfaces of the knee with metal and plastic components shaped to allow continued motion of the knee.

Knee Replacement Anatomy Illustrations

Illustration of the cartilage, ligaments and tendons in a healthy knee.

Illustration of the cartilage, ligaments and tendons in a healthy knee.


Illustration of the worn articular cartilage, a torn meniscus and bone spurs in a knee with arthritis.

Illustration of the worn articular cartilage, a torn meniscus and bone spurs in a knee with arthritis.


Illustration of a prosthetic knee after a total knee replacement.

Illustration of a prosthetic knee after a total knee replacement.

A Successful Solution To Debilitating Pain

Other major causes of debilitating pain include meniscus tears, cartilage defects, and ligament tears. Debilitating pain from osteoarthritis is much more common in the elderly. Knee replacement surgery can be performed as a partial or a total knee replacement.

Total joint replacement (arthroplasty) is a common and very successful surgery for people with degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) of the knee. Two other surgeries can also restore knee function and significantly diminish osteoarthritis pain in carefully selected patients. If osteoarthritis damage to the knee meets certain qualifications, a doctor may recommend either osteotomy or unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA).

Types Of Knee Replacement

Total Unicondyle Knee Replacement
A knee replacement (also called knee arthroplasty) might be more accurately termed a knee “resurfacing” because only the surface of the bones are actually replaced. The damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur and tibia are removed along with a small amount of underlying bone. The removed cartilage and bone is replaced with metal components that recreate the surface of the joint. These metal parts may be cemented or “press-fit” into the bone. The undersurface of the patella (kneecap) is cut and resurfaced with a plastic button. Some surgeons do not resurface the patella, depending upon the case. A medical-grade plastic spacer is inserted between the metal components to create a smooth gliding surface.

Unicompartmental Knee Replacement
The unicompartmental knee replacement is used to replace a single compartment of the arthritic knee. The knee joint has three compartments: the medial (inner) compartment, the lateral (outer) compartment, and the patellofemoral (kneecap) compartment. If the damage is limited to either the medial or lateral compartment, that compartment may be replaced with the unicompartmental knee implant.

partial_vs_total_knee_replacement

Service Providers

Henry Small, M.D.

Dr. Small is a board certified orthopedic surgeon. He has 23 years of experience.