Orthopaedic Surgeon | Foot and Ankle

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Partial Knee Replacement

How many ‘compartments’ are in the knee?

The knee joint is composed of three compartments, that can be affected by arthritis in isolation, or in combination. The compartments are:

  • Medial (inner) Compartment
  • Lateral (outer) Compartment
  • Patellofemoral (kneecap) compartmentOrthopaedic surgeon knee surgeon adelaide dr mike smith robotic knee replacement

What is a partial knee replacement?

A partial knee replacement involves specifically replacing the ‘compartment’ of the knee affected by arthritis. The remaining compartments are left intact. This is in contrast to a total knee replacement, that involves replacing the medial and lateral compartments +/- the patellofemoral compartment.

The most common partial knee replacement performed is a medial compartment replacement. The medial (inner) compartment is most frequently affected by arthritis in isolation.

A patellofemoral replacement is a management option for patients with isolated arthritis to the knee cap and the groove (trochlea) of the femur, that the patella glides on.

Who is suitable for a partial knee replacement?

mike smith adelaide knee surgeon computer navigation best image happy patient

  • Have arthritis in only one compartment of the knee
  • Have minimal ‘deformity’ or change in shape to the leg
  • Have the ability to straighten and bend the knee to a near normal position
  • Have pain that correlates with the location of the arthritis
  • Not have an inflammatory condition like rheumatoid arthritis that affects the entire joint

Dr. Mike Smith performs partial knee replacements. He will discuss the suitability of these procedures with you in detail.

What are the potential advantages?

The potential advantages of a partial knee replacement, in comparison to a total knee replacement include:

  • Smaller operation and scar
  • Rapid rehabilitation
  • Shorter stay in hospital
  • A more ‘natural’ feeling replacement
  • Better range of motion in the knee

How is a partial knee replacement performed?

You are admitted to hospital on the same day as the procedure. Typically a spinal anaesthetic is used to reduce the risk of blood clots and improve your recovery following the operation. A local anaesthetic ‘block’ is offered to ‘numb’ your leg for your recovery after the procedure.

Medial Compartment Replacement

Orthopaedic surgeon knee surgeon adelaide dr mike smith robotic knee replacementA small incision is made on the inner side of your knee cap.

The bone ends of the femur and tibia are prepared using a saw or a burr to remove the arthritic disease.

A ‘femoral’ and a ‘tibial’ component are inserted with specific care to ensure that they are correctly positioned form a normal relationship throughout knee movement.

These components are often cemented into position.

Local anaesthetic is infiltrated throughout the knee joint to provide pain relief

The wound is then closed and dressings are applied

Patellofemoral Compartment Replacement

partial knee replacement robotic knee surgery adelaide mike smith

A midline incision is made down the front of the knee

The diseased (arthritic) cartilage is removed from the back of the knee cap and the groove that the knee cap sits in.

A highly engineered ‘plastic’ button is cemented onto the back of the kneecap

A metallic ‘femoral’ component is cemented in place for the knee cap to glide over.

Local anaesthetic is infiltrated throughout the knee joint to provide pain relief

The wound is then closed and dressings are applied


Following the procedure, you typically remain in hospital for 2-3 nights. Dedicated physiotherapists will educate you with specific exercises and help teach you to ambulate. Dr. Mike Smith prides himself on managing any pain that you experience. In conjunction with the anaesthetist and nursing staff, your ongoing comfort is of most importance.

You will be encouraged to walk straight away, even on the same day as the procedure. This is done with the help of the fantastic nursing and physio staff within the hospital!

When you go home, you will be required to continue you exercises to maintain your knee movement. You will typically need someone to drive you for the first 6 weeks. Your dressings will remain on until you return to see Dr. Mike Smith two weeks following the operation. You will be given a blood thinner (such as aspirin) for 6 weeks to reduce the risk of you getting a blood clot.

The majority of patients are recovering well at 6 weeks and continue to improve and return to function from there on.

Dr. Mike Smith and his staff can be contacted by one of the methods outlined below. For any acute injuries, we will ensure that you are seen as soon as possible. We look forward to welcoming you soon.

  • Patient Contact Form

​Urgent Referrals & Emergencies

Email Referral

Feel free to email your referral to our friendly staff who will promptly book an appointment.

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08 7099 0188

Fax Referral

Please fax your referral to 08 7099 0171. Dr. Smith's rooms will contact your patient within 24 hours, with an appointment time.