Mimi Murphy's Medical Breakthroughs: Partial Knee Replacement

Medical Breakthroughs
By  | 

Anyone who has arthritis of the knee knows how painful it can be. While medication can help, major surgery is often the only way to get complete relief. Now there's another option.

Last summer, a severe case of arthritis in his knee made it impossible for Ed Schultz to put on his shoes. A scan of his knee confirmed the problem.

"There was no cartilage at all, no cushioning of any kind between the bones. When I'd walk, it was a mortar and pestle grinding away at each other," Schultz said.

Until recently, fixing the problem would have meant total knee replacement. Because only part of Schultz's knee was affected, orthopedic surgeon Michael Bronson, M.D., recommended a far less invasive option -- a partial knee replacement.

"In a unicompartmental replacement, what we're doing is just resurfacing that area which is worn out," said Dr. Bronson, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

A metal runner and small plastic disc replace the worn cartilage, providing a new cushion between the bones. The 45-minute procedure requires a much smaller incision than a total knee replacement, has less blood loss, and a faster recovery.

"Whereas in total knee replacement, we talk about recovery being three to six months. In these operations, we're talking about weeks," Dr. Bronson said.

Even more encouraging is that the improvement lasts.

"The data that are just coming back after 10 years shows that 95 percent of patients are still functioning as they did in the beginning, which is an excellent long-term prognosis," Bronson said.

"I really have, I believe, virtually full mobility with the knee," said

If he's like the others, it will continue.

Dr. Bronson recommends partial knee surgery for anyone over 50, and if a total knee replacement is needed later, he says it's easier to do.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Michael Bronson, M.D.
Lenox Hill Hospital
(212) 734-2646