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Institute of Advanced Orthopedics, MOSC Hospital and Medical College, Kolenchery, Ernakulam, Kerala

Unicondylar Knee Replacement

Also known as unicompartmental knee replacement, unicondylar knee replacement is a less invasive alternative to a total knee replacement. This procedure is designed to replace only the portions of the knee most damaged by arthritis, leaving the healthier portions intact and letting patients benefit from less scarring, shorter recovery times and a fuller range of motion.



This procedure is commonly performed on younger, more active patients who do not wish to undergo a total knee replacement yet, or for patients whose arthritis is localized in one specific area of the knee.


It can replace either the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) parts of the knee. The damaged areas are replaced with a man-made implant, called a prosthetic.

A Unicondylar knee joint replacement is recommended if:


  • Your knee pain prevents you from doing daily activities.
  • You can’t sleep through the night because of knee pain.
  • Your knee pain has not gotten better with other treatments.


You will benefit from a Unicondylar knee replacement if you :


  • Do not have very bad arthritis on the other side of the knee or under the kneecap
  • Have only minor deformity of the knee
  • Can move your knee in a good range
  • Have stable ligaments in the knee

Advantages of Partial Knee Replacement

Multiple studies have shown that modern unicompartmental knee replacement performs very well in the vast majority of patients who are appropriate candidates.



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

  • Quicker recovery
  • Less pain after surgery
  • Less blood loss

Also, because the bone, cartilage, and ligaments in the healthy parts of the knee are kept, most patients report that a unicompartmental knee replacement feels more “natural” than a total knee replacement. A unicompartmental knee may also bend better.

Disadvantages of Partial Knee Replacement

The disadvantages of partial knee replacement compared with total knee replacement include slightly less predictable pain relief, and the potential need for more surgery. For example, a total knee replacement may be necessary in the future if arthritis develops in the parts of the knee that have not been replaced.

Description of the procedure

Before surgery, you will be given anesthesia, which is medicine that blocks pain. You will have one of two types:


  • General anesthesia makes you sleep through the procedure and unable to feel pain.
  • Regional (spinal or epidural) anesthesia numbs you below your waist. You will also receive medicines to make you relax or feel sleepy.


The surgeon will make a cut over your knee. This cut is about 3 to 5 inches long.

  • Next, the doctor examines the entire knee joint. If there is damage to more than one part of your knee, you may need a total knee replacement. Most of the time, however, this is not needed since the tests you had before the procedure would have shown this damage.
  • The damaged bone and tissue is removed.
  • A man-made part made of plastic and metal is placed into the knee.
  • Once the part is in the proper place, it is attached with bone cement.
  • The wound is closed with stitches.
Radiograph of Uni knee:

Radiograph after a unicondylar knee replacement where you can see that only the damaged medial compartment of the knee is replaced.

After the Procedure

Most patients go home in 2 or 3 days after surgery.

You can put your full weight on your knee right away.

After surgery, you will be encouraged to do as much as you can for yourself. This includes going to the bathroom or taking walks in the hallways with help.

Most people recover quickly and have much less pain than they did before surgery. People who have a partial knee replacement recover faster than those who have a total knee replacement.

After a Unicondylar Knee Replacement the Knee feels and functions much more like the normal knee as there are very little artificial parts inside the operated knee. It Safely accommodates high flexion up to 155°

More than the price advantage over a total knee replacement,  this procedure allows the person to become more active as required in younger age.

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