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Tricompartmental Knee Replacement

Also known as total knee arthroplasty, tricompartmental knee replacement replaces worn out pieces of the knee joint with artificial pieces. The most common condition treated with tricompartmental knee replacement is arthritis.

Am I a candidate for tricompartmental knee replacement?

With arthritis, the cartilage in the joint can become thin or wear out completely. You may even develop bone spurs, which are extra bone growths on the edge of the bone. Your doctor may recommend knee replacement when these conditions begin to affect your daily life, including:

  • Moderate or severe pain
  • Pain that isn’t relieved with medications
  • Chronic swelling in your knee
  • Limited daily activity due to pain
  • Pain that keeps you awake at night
  • Development of bowleg

What happens during tricompartmental knee replacement?

During tricompartmental knee replacement, your surgeon will make cuts to the damaged part of your thigh bone (femur) to fit a piece of your artificial knee onto it. Then, he or she will do the same thing to prepare your shin bone (tibia) to fit another piece of the artificial knee on it. Any bone spurs or irregularities will be smoothed.

A plastic piece goes in between the two pieces to help create a smooth surface for gliding. You’ll also have a plastic piece attached to the back surface of your kneecap (patella). Once all of the pieces are in place, your surgeon will test the new joint and close your incision.

What are the risks of tricompartmental knee replacement?

All joint replacement surgeries have some risks. They are rare, but can include:

  • Implant wear or loosening
  • Infection
  • Injuries to the blood vessels, nerves, or ligaments
  • Blood clots
  • Kneecap dislocation
  • Stiffness in the knee

What recovery is needed after tricompartmental knee replacement?

You’ll be encouraged to start moving and walking soon after your surgery. At first, you’ll use a walker or crutches to help you walk. A physical therapist will also teach you how to regain strength through exercises.

You may have a CPM machine, which stands for continuous passive motion. This machine helps keep your new joint constantly in motion without any movement from you. When it’s time to go home, your care team will also give you instructions on movements to avoid and how to care for your knee as you recover.