Saint Vincent Hospital Offers Partial Knee Replacement Surgery as Alternative Option for Eligible Patients with Osteoarthritis Damage

Jun 13, 2024

Studies show quicker recovery, fewer complications than with total knee replacement

Saint Vincent Hospital patients with knee pain resulting from osteoarthritis may be eligible for partial knee replacement surgery, a safer, less-invasive option[i] than total knee replacement.

During knee replacement surgery, bone and cartilage damaged by osteoarthritis are removed and the damaged areas resurfaced with metal and plastic components. Partial knee replacement is an alternative to total knee replacement for patients whose osteoarthritis is limited to just one of the knee’s three compartments. In the partial knee replacement procedure, only the damaged portion of the knee is resurfaced, leaving the rest of the joint intact.

“The advantages of partial knee replacement are that it’s a less-invasive procedure, requiring a smaller incision than total knee replacement surgery and less time in the operating room,” says Philip Lahey, IV, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Saint Vincent Hospital’s Center for Musculoskeletal Services. “Studies have shown that patients who undergo the procedure lose less blood and have a reduced risk of surgical complications such as infections and blood clots.[ii]

Dr. Lahey, who has performed partial knee replacement surgery for approximately four years, adds: “I’ve found that the recovery time is easier for my patients with partial knee replacement, compared to total knee replacement. They tend to get their range of motion, strength, and function back more quickly. They end up with a knee that feels more natural to them and that allows them to get back to all the activities they were formerly able to do.”

Most patients have the surgery on an outpatient basis, although some may require an overnight hospital stay. Dr. Lahey mostly performs the surgery on patients who have osteoarthritis in the medial (inside) compartment of their knee, where osteoarthritis most commonly occurs, although it can also be performed on the two other compartments – the lateral (outside) and patellofemoral (between the thigh bone and kneecap). His patients range in age anywhere from their late 40s up to their 80s.

“Partial knee replacement may be a better option for older patients than total knee replacement, because the rehabilitation, which can be challenging for the elderly, is a little easier,” Dr. Lahey explains. “It’s great for younger people too, because we preserve a lot of the joint and ligament and more of the cartilage, which means they can get back to a higher level of activity afterward.”

Patients begin physical therapy the day of the surgery, with the initial recovery taking about one month, according to Dr. Lahey. “Usually, your range of motion returns over the first month,” he said. “I tell my patients that it can be anywhere from two to three months before they get back to all of their normal activities.”

Tammie Smiley, a 54-year-old West Boylston resident, has had partial knee replacement surgery performed on both of her knees by Dr. Lahey. She had the second operation, on her left knee, in January. “Before the surgery, I had pain and stiffness in my left knee due to osteoarthritis and I couldn’t walk without pain,” Smiley says. “It really limited my outdoor activities, especially gardening, which I love.”

Smiley had some initial pain after the procedure but described it as “manageable.” “I hardly took any pain medication – only for the first week,” she said. “After a month, I was feeling a whole lot better. Today, my knee is fabulous! I’m able to take my puppies for walks and go to the gym. I have a much better range of motion in my knee. I’m able to do the outdoor activities, like gardening, that I’ve had difficulty doing for the last eight years. I put it off too long.” 

Dr. Lahey is one of the skilled orthopedic surgeons who performs partial knee replacement surgeries at Saint Vincent. For more information about partial knee replacement surgeries at Saint Vincent Hospital, please visit



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