Minimally Invasive Surgery for Knee Replacements
By Jonathon Fox, an orthopedic surgeon at Banner Desert Medical Center.
Question: I've heard of total knee replacement done with minimally invasive surgery in which the patient went home the next day and was mobile with a walker or cane. Is the truly possible with a total knee replacement?
Answer: There are several approaches that may be used to perform a total knee replacement, including many approaches that might be described as minimally invasive. Surgical outcomes are as diverse as patients so it is difficult to compare knee surgeries even if done the same way. I recommend to my patients that they be inspired by the positive outcomes of other patients, but because they are individuals, everyone recovers from joint replacement surgery at different rates. However, total knee replacement, by definition, is an extensive surgery.
It is possible that the surgery you heard about involved a partial knee replacement, or unicompartmental replacement. Partial knee replacement surgery is designed for less extensive arthritis and is typically less invasive because it doesn't replace the entire joint. The incision may be smaller and the patient may been discharged the next day. That is not to say that patients who have total joint replacement surgery could not be walking the next day. Some highly motivated patients can move the day after a total knee replacement.
Today, surgery for knee replacement offers many options. There are tools that allow a surgeon to do a knee replacement with a smaller cut, but studies show that bone cuts done this way are not as accurate and may lead to complications.
Reviewed May 2010