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Outpatient Unicondylar Knee Replacement

What is Outpatient Unicondylar Knee Replacement?

A unicondylar knee replacement, also known as unicompartmental or partial knee replacement, is a procedure to replace a portion of the damaged knee joint with a prosthetic implant to relieve pain and improve function of the knee joint. Traditionally performed as an inpatient procedure, advances in technology have allowed this procedure to be performed on an outpatient basis allowing patients to go home the same day of the surgery 

Knee Anatomy

The knee is made up of the femur (thighbone), the tibia (shinbone), and patella (kneecap). The lower end of the thighbone meets the upper end of the shinbone at the knee joint. A small bone called the patella (kneecap) rests on a groove on the front side of the femoral end. A bone of the lower leg (fibula) forms a joint with the shinbone. The bones are held together by protective tissues, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Synovial fluid within the joint aids in smooth movement of the bones over one another. The meniscus, a soft crescent-shaped cartilage between the femur and tibia, serves as a cushion and helps absorb shock during motion.

Diagnosis for Outpatient Unicondylar Knee Replacement

A detailed examination with Dr. McNabb will confirm whether or not you need an outpatient unicondylar knee replacement, including:

  • Review of medical history to assess general knee health, signs and symptoms, and previous injuries or surgeries
  • Physical examination to assess the range of motion, amount of swelling, alignment of the knee, and severity of pain
  • Imaging tests such as X-rays to determine the extent of arthritis of your knee

What Happens during Outpatient Unicondylar Knee Replacement?

The operation is performed in an outpatient surgery center. An incision over the front of the knee is utilized to access the knee. The supporting structures of the knee are gently moved out of the way and the damaged cartilage and bone from the surfaces of the femur and tibia are removed. The bone surfaces are prepared appropriately to insert specifically sized prosthetic components to your joint. These components are then secured with the use of cement. All surrounding tissues and structures are restored to their normal anatomic position, and the incision is closed with sutures and sterile dressings.

Postoperative Care and Instructions

As it is an outpatient (same-day) surgery, you will be able to leave the surgical center on the same day after your anesthesia wears off , your pain is well controlled and you have cleared physical therapy requirements for safe mobility. You will be given postoperative instructions on:

  • Use of a walker to help with ambuliation
  • Surgical site care
  • Physical therapy and exercise regimen
  • Adherence to pain medications to keep you comfortable
  • Adherence to your follow-up appointments

What are the Risks and Complications Associated with Outpatient Unicondylar Knee Replacement?

Outpatient unicondylar knee replacement is relatively a safe procedure, but however, as with any procedure, it does carry some risks, including:

  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Injury to nerves and blood vessels
  • Fracture
  • Implant loosening
  • Excess bone and scar tissue formation around the artificial knee joint causing reduced mobility