The most common condition that results in the need for partial knee replacement surgery is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that affects mostly middle-aged and older adults. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage and adjacent bone in the knees. Other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis that results from a knee injury, can also lead to degeneration of the knee joint. In addition, fractures, torn cartilage or torn ligaments can lead to irreversible damage to the knee joint over the years.

When a knee is severely damaged by disease or injury, an artificial knee replacement may be considered. During knee replacement surgery, joint surfaces are substituted or replaced by prostheses. In a partial or unicompartmental knee replacement, only one surface in the joint is damaged enough to need replacement. Most often, the inner side of the knee joint (the part toward your other knee) is replaced while the outer side and the knee cap are kept intact. A partial knee replacement is a way to postpone having to replace the whole knee while preventing more damage to the healthy parts of the knee by correcting your movements and removing chronic pain. See below illustration for the difference between a partial/unicompartmental knee and a total knee replacement.

The decision to replace the painful knee with an artificial one is a joint decision between you and your doctor. Other alternative treatments, including assistive walking devices, anti-inflammatory medicines, injections and bracing, may first be used.



Services We Provide

Hawaii Pacific Health has well-developed programs for patients who are seeking partial knee replacement. Straub Medical Center has three orthopedic surgeons who specialize in partial knee replacement surgery. Wilcox Medical Center on Kauai has two orthopedic surgeons who have expertise in partial knee replacement, drawing patients from over Kauai, the neighbor islands and other parts of the world.

Patients scheduled for a partial knee replacement surgery are followed by a team every step of the way, from the decision to have surgery through the months after surgery, to ensure that the entire journey is well coordinated. Prior to surgery, patients and a family member or friend who will serve as their “coach” through this journey are invited to take part in an educational class. This class is designed to share information about the upcoming surgery and what to expect during each stage of recovery. This procedure is sometimes considered an outpatient surgery, where patients go home the same day, while other patients might stay overnight in the medical center. All patients return home with an appointment to follow up with the surgeon and an appointment to begin physical therapy at a clinic of their choice. It is important to have a good plan for support at home after discharge and in the coming weeks, as ability to drive and do household chores may be limited.

If you suffer from significant pain and lack of normal motion in your knee, please contact your surgeon’s office for an evaluation.

Contact Us

Hawaii Pacific Health Bone & Joint Center at Pali Momi Medical Center


Straub Orthopedics


Wilcox Bone & Joint Center