April 6, 2015 – Weill Cornell Medical College
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Partial knee replacements are economically superior to total knee replacements in older adults, and with a few small improvements, can be an attractive option for younger patients as well, new research from Weill Cornell Medical College and Hospital for Special Surgery investigators suggests.
Knee replacement surgeries are expected to surpass one million annually by 2020, with half of these surgeries being performed on patients younger than 65. Historically, physicians have recommended total knee replacements for all adult patients including those who have end-stage osteoarthritis in part of the knee joint. But in their study, published March 4 in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the Weill Cornell investigators found that partial knee — also known as unicompartmental — replacements provide greater economic value to patients over the age of 65 compared to total knee replacement, as they are less likely to face surgical complications and require less physical therapy than those who undergo total knee replacement surgery…
…”With a unicompartmental knee replacement, you’re more likely to return to work earlier and have better function compared to total knee replacement, which requires more rehabilitation and has more complications,” said lead author Dr. Hassan Ghomrawi, an assistant professor of healthcare policy and research at Weill Cornell and a research scientist at Hospital for Special Surgery.
While partial knee replacements have traditionally been controversial due to the higher risk of needing a revision surgery, physicians and researchers have found that this procedure offers substantial benefits. It is minimally invasive and results in less blood loss and trauma than total knee replacements. It is associated with less medical and surgical complications, such as joint infections and blood clots in the legs and lungs. And patients’ reconstructed knees tend to have a better range of motion following a shorter stint in physical therapy.