For the right patient – one with arthritis in only one area of the knee joint – partial knee replacement (or unicompartmental knee replacement) offers a less invasive alternative to total knee replacement that can help relieve pain and increase range of motion. Learn more about the difference between partial knee replacement and total knee replacement.
The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group (TSAOG) is now offering partial knee replacement as an outpatient procedure at our ambulatory surgery center. I sat down with board certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Garcia to discuss the benefits of outpatient partial knee replacement.
So why am I just hearing about this now?
Partial knee replacements have been around for many years, but certain developments in the healthcare landscape have made outpatient partial knee replacement possible relatively recently. These include advances in surgical technology and techniques, which have made the procedure less invasive, as well as the implementation of pre-surgical protocols including multimodal pain and anesthesia management, which has made the procedure less traumatic. Many centers throughout the country are now offering outpatient partial knee replacements with excellent results.
Why would I want to have my partial knee replacement performed in an outpatient surgery center versus in the hospital?
There are several benefits to having this procedure performed on an outpatient basis versus in a hospital environment, but the big three are:
- Patient Satisfaction
Talk about the safety aspect.
Safety is most people’s primary concern when considering any surgery. Procedures performed in an outpatient setting across the board tend toward lower rates of complications and infections than the same procedures performed in a hospital setting. Additionally, when you are dealing with an outpatient surgery center that caters to a specific specialty – like the Orthopaedic Surgery Center of San Antonio – you have even less chance of being exposed to certain infections than at a more generalized surgery center.
How is patient satisfaction impacted?
Recent studies indicate a higher Knee Society Clinical Rating System score and a higher patient satisfaction rate with same day or 23 hour stay outpatient partial knee replacement versus standard hospitalized inpatient partial knee replacement.
What about cost? Is it less expensive to have a partial knee replacement done at an outpatient surgery center?
Yes, significantly. The rule of thumb is that the cost of an outpatient partial knee replacement is about 25% of the cost of an inpatient partial knee replacement. The direct cost to the patient will depend on individual insurance coverage, but patients can generally expect a savings of 30-50%.
Will my insurance cover outpatient partial knee replacement?
Yes. Most insurances cover partial knee replacements done on an outpatient basis. In fact, there is a growing trend of insurance companies supporting these procedures due to their lower complication rates and significant cost containment. Medicare took the lead on allowing outpatient partial knee replacement many years ago and has recently questioned the full admission of a patient for this procedure. Although it can still be done in the hospital, the recommendation has been for an outpatient admission rather than a full inpatient admission status for eligible patients.
I’ve got knee pain. How do I find out if I’m a candidate?
Knee pain alone is not a reason to consider any kind of joint replacement. However, if your knee pain due to osteoarthritis is significantly affecting your daily life, it may be time to talk to your physician to see if you are a candidate for partial knee replacement.
Dr. Frank Garcia is a board certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in partial knee replacement and total knee replacement. He treats patients aged 14 years and up for all orthopedic conditions. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Garcia, please call 210.281.9595.