Understanding the Different Types of Knee Surgery

Understanding the Different Types of Knee Surgery

Damage to the knee from injury or wear and tear may require surgery to repair. After meeting with an orthopedic surgeon to determine the necessity for knee surgery, your surgeon will discuss the type of surgery and approach to repair your knee and restore function.

Orthopedic surgeon Matthew Pifer, MD, specializes in knee and shoulder repair, and sports medicine. Possessing extensive experience repairing damaged knees, Dr. Pifer aims to restore function and help patients return to their normal lives as quickly and safely as possible. 

Knee joint and injury

The knee is a complex joint that connects the femur, tibia, and patella. It’s the largest joint in the body, and as a weight-bearing joint, is vulnerable to stress, wear and tear, and injury. Knee injuries can occur from sudden impact or overuse. 

Contact sports and sports that require pivoting of the knee, such as football, basketball, and soccer have a higher risk of knee injuries. Age-related changes to the knee joint that cause conditions such as osteoarthritis may result in significant joint breakdown over time, requiring surgery. 

Surgical approaches

Dr. Pifer specializes in minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. This surgical approach involves making multiple small incisions to view and repair the knee. Arthroscopic surgery has many advantages, including a lower complication rate, less damage to surrounding tissue, and faster recovery. Arthroscopic surgery isn’t right for every injury. Open surgery is more appropriate in some cases. Dr. Pifer will determine which method is most appropriate for your unique situation. 

Types of knee surgeries

There are several types of surgeries used to repair damage to the knee. The following are some of the most common types of knee surgery. 

ACL reconstruction surgery

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) stabilizes the knee and is a common site of injury. Partial or complete tears of the ACL are common, especially in high-impact sports. Repair is necessary to stabilize the knee and prevent reinjury. 

ACL reconstruction is often performed using arthroscopic surgery. The goal is to restore stability. To perform ACL surgery a graft is used to replace the damaged ACL. A tendon of the knee cap or hamstring are commonly used for this purpose. 

Reconstruction is typically performed several weeks after injury to allow time for swelling to reduce prior to reconstruction. Rehabilitation begins immediately following surgery. 

Microfracture surgery

Microfracture is a type of surgery used to repair damaged knee cartilage. It involves creating small holes in your bone to stimulate the growth of cartilage to replace damaged cartilage. This option is appropriate when you have a small area of damaged cartilage.

Lateral Release Knee Surgery

Lateral release surgery is used to prevent the kneecap from pulling in the outer side of the kneecap, which causes pain and instability. Performed via arthroscopy, lateral release involves realigning the kneecap back in its normal position. 

Partial Knee Replacement Knee Surgery

Extensive damage from osteoarthritis is one of the most common reasons for knee replacement surgery. In a partial knee replacement, the damaged part of the knee is replaced with man-made materials that function just like your normal knee joint. 

Total knee replacement

When damage to the knee joint is widespread, a full knee replacement may be appropriate to restore knee function and relieve pain. 

Kneecap surgery

Kneecap (patella) surgery is often performed via arthroscopy but in some cases may require open surgery. Damage to the kneecap can occur from a fall or other injury, causing pain and hindering movement. Depending on the specific injury, Dr. Pifer will repair and realign the kneecap so that it fits properly in its groove and glides without disruption. 

If you’re injured, in pain, or have limited mobility due to an injury or osteoarthritis, surgery to repair your damaged knee can get you back on your feet and back to the things you enjoy. For an initial consultation with Dr. Pifer, call our Santa Barbara office. Our team members are standing by to answer your questions.

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