Partial Knee Replacement: Less Is More!


CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— More than 790,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States. For patients, it’s one way to eliminate the severe pain and stiffness caused by injury or years of arthritis. Doctors can now remove just a portion of the knee and still offer patients relief.

Jonathan Stevens and his family have their hands full!

“We live on a small farm in northern Indiana,” shared Stevens.

“We’ve never had a farm before, so we’re kind of figuring it out as we go,” Stevens exclaimed.

But everything changed when he started feeling severe pain in his knee.

“It was like someone had a hot ice pick and they were shoving it right into my knee and it stayed there,” Stevens illustrated.

Doctors told him he would need a knee replacement.

“And unfortunately, you’re too young, you’re too young to have one,” recalled Stevens.

Instead, doctors offered Jonathan another option.

Tad Gerlinger, MD, a joint replacement surgeon at Midwest Orthopedics at Rush explained, “Partial knee replacement is something that not everyone’s exposed to. It’s replacing just a portion of the knee.”

(Read Full Interview)

Knees are made up of three main compartments, the medial, lateral, and the patella femoral joint, that hides behind the knee cap.

“And all three of those can be replaced individually versus a total knee which replaces all three at once,” elaborated Dr. Gerlinger.

So, if pain is only coming from one of these areas, then a partial will replace only that area.

“It’s lower risk, and it’s lower morbidity, and a quicker recovery. Eighty percent of patients who get a partial knee replacement never need another operation,” concluded Dr. Gerlinger.

“Yesterday we had Brooklyn up on the horse and she wanted to go faster. Yesterday I was actually running with the horse and Brooklyn. And there’s no way I could’ve done that a year ago,” expressed Stevens.

The requirements and risk factors for partial and total knee replacements are the same. However, if the joint needs to be revised down the road, a total knee would require a second full major surgery to revise. Whereas a partial needs only to be converted to a total.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Sabrina Broadbent, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4791

BACKGROUND: The most common reason knee replacement surgeries are performed is to relieve long-term and disruptive pain typically caused by osteoarthritis. This can include knee pain when active, such as bending, climbing, walking, getting up, or down from sitting position or pain at rest. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis worldwide and occurs when the  protective cartilage between bones wears down. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint on the body, but it primarily affects the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Osteoarthritis can cause pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, grating sensation, bone spurs, or swelling. Knee replacements can also result from rheumatoid arthritis or post-traumatic arthritis.


TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT: Knee replacement surgeries, also called arthroplasty, can help relieve pain and restore function. In the procedure, surgeons cut away damaged bone and cartilage from the patient’s thigh bone, shin bone, and kneecap, and then replace it with an artificial joint, or prosthesis, made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers. The approximately two-hour long surgery is followed by a few days of in-hospital recovery and engaging in increasing levels of activity for physical therapy. Patients suitable for total knee replacements are usually between the ages of 50 and 80. Determinations for total knee replacement include evaluations of medical history, physical exams, x-rays, and a myriad of other tests. Each case will be assessed individually by the patient’s orthopedic surgeon.


NEW OPTIONS: The knee is made up of three main compartments. The medial, lateral, and the patella-femoral joint, which resides behind the knee cap. A total knee replacement requires the removal of all three compartments and the ACL, which is responsible for most of the joint’s mobility. The partial knee replacement procedure gives the option to only remove one of the three compartments of the knee. This allows for the ACL to remain intact and greatly improve the patient’s quality of life. The patella, or the kneecap, is never touched in a partial knee replacement surgery and one of the requirements for the surgery is that the patella is intact. The requirements for a total knee and a partial knee are the same. However, a partial knee is a lesser surgery meaning it has lower risks and shorter recoveries. Regarding the patient’s recovery and the ability to walk and do knee-heavy activity in the future, Dr. Gerlinger says, “. So, I think that if that’s really what’s you’re most interested in. If that’s the activity that means the most to you and your life and your quality life, then run and we’ll deal with the situation if something arises. And I have plenty of patients that do run on the partial knees.”

(Sources: Tad Gerlinger, MD, joint replacement surgeon at Midwest Orthopedics at Rush,




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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Tad Gerlinger, MD, a joint replacement surgeon

Read the entire Q&A