10 Common Types Of Knee Surgery

By Matthew Cenzon. May 7th 2016

The knee is the largest joint of the body and is also the most complex. It connects the thigh with the rest of the leg and supports almost all of the weight of the human body, making the knee susceptible to multiple types of injuries and conditions, with numerous types of knee surgery available for treatment. The complexity of the knee surgery depends on what portion of the knee needs to be treated and what type of repair needs to be performed. Here are 10 common types of knee surgery used to treat anything from a torn ACL to microfracture surgery.

1. Meniscectomy

Meniscectomy knee surgery is used when a portion of the knee's cartilage called the meniscus is damaged, causing pain, swelling and issues with movement. The most common form of a Meniscectomy is arthroscopy. In arthroscopic surgery, small incisions are made around the knee for the insertion of a small camera and various instruments that are needed to safely remove the damaged meniscus.

2. Meniscus Repair

In certain cases of damaged meniscus, it is possible to repair the cartilage rather than completely remove it. Meniscus repair is more beneficial to the patient than complete removal because it reduces the risk of developing arthritis later on in life. Repair surgery is only feasible when the tear is on the outer portion of the meniscus. If it is towards the central area of the cartilage, the lack of a sufficient blood supply will not allow the meniscus to heal itself after repair.

3. Meniscus Transplant

A meniscus transplant is another type of knee surgery for a damaged meniscus that also uses arthroscopy. For this particular type of knee surgery, a damaged meniscus is replaced with cartilage from a donor. Just like meniscus repair, this procedure is beneficial to the patient because it reduces the risk of knee pain and arthritis in the future.

4. Plica Surgery

Plica is tissue on the knee that is highly vulnerable to injury. An injury of the plica is referred to as "plica syndrome," and can be treated with surgical or nonsurgical methods. The primary goal for treating plica syndrome is to reduce inflammation. In more severe cases, arthroscopic surgery is required.

5. Lateral Release

A lateral release is a type of knee surgery that is typically used to alleviate pain in the kneecap caused when the kneecap is being abnormally pulled to the outer area of its groove. This is another arthroscopic procedure, and should realign the kneecap.

6. Tendon Repair

The patellar tendon and quadriceps tendon can rupture, causing issues with leg flexibility and movement, primarily when straightening out one's leg completely. These two tendons are located on the front portion of your knee, above and below the kneecap. Tendon rupture typically occurs due to a fall or a direct blow causing one or both tendons to tear. Surgical repair is required for more severe injuries to the patellar and quadriceps tendons.

7. ACL Reconstructive Surgery

An injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, better known as torn ACL, is one of the most common injuries seen amongst athletes. The ACL is vital to the knee and stability, yet there are some people who can function without it. ACL reconstruction requires a graft selection, meaning the patient would need to select replacement tissue from their own body or a donor. For ACL reconstructive surgery, the patellar tendon and hamstring tendon are the most commonly used.

8. Unicompartmental Knee Replacement

Unicompartmental knee replacement, also known as partial knee replacement, is an option for a small percentage of patients who have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis that is limited to just one area of the knee. The procedure requires the damaged portion of the knee to be replaced with metal and plastic components. The benefits of partial knee replacement over a full knee replacement include:

  • Less complicated procedure
  • Smaller incision
  • Less loss of blood
  • Faster recovery
  • Feels more natural because only a portion of the knee is artificial

9. Full Knee Replacement

Patients suffering from severe arthritis in the knees require a full knee replacement as opposed to a partial knee replacement. A physician can assist with the appropriate selection of an artificial knee replacement.

10. Microfracture Surgery

Microfracture surgery is done to repair damaged cartilage. This particular type of knee surgery has been popularized by professional athletes, and is used to either treat knee pain caused by cartilage damage, or to avoid a partial or full knee replacement. Microfracture surgery is an arthroscopic procedure where small holes are made in the bone. These holes help release cells in the bone and promote a better blood supply to stimulate cartilage growth to replace damaged cartilage.

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