The knee is divided into three compartments: the medial (inner), the lateral (outer) and the patello-femoral. Any of these compartments can be replaced, without replacing the entire knee joint.
Knee replacement is sometimes the only surgical option available to patients with knee conditions such as arthritis that cause damage to the knee joint, resulting in problems carrying out everyday activities. The aim of the operation is to relieve pain and improve mobility by replacing the worn-out parts of the arthritic knee with specially designed metal and plastic components.
Most knee replacement surgery is carried out on older people, although it can be offered to patients of any age. In most cases, a replacement knee will last over 20 years.
While knee replacement may be the answer for some people, for others – particularly if you are a younger patient, an athlete, or an older patient who is still very active – removing the knee joint, which also means taking away a great deal of healthy tissue, may not be the best option. In some cases, you may be offered knee realignment surgery (osteotomy) instead; this new procedure can significantly delay, or in some cases even avoid, the need for knee replacement surgery.