Following partial knee replacement: quickly recovered and fully functional.

Following Partial Knee Replacement: Quickly Recovered and Fully Functional.

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William “Bill” Courtney, 79, of Washington, D.C., leads a vibrant life. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Georgia and Kazakhstan, is a senior fellow at the Rand Corporation, a nonprofit think tank, and is a frequent news commentator. His other passion? “For a half century I played tennis. It was a significant part of my life,” says Bill. “But I overdid it a decade ago and tore a meniscus.” After living with pain and limping for 10 years, he knew it was time for surgery. His doctor recommended Kenneth Vaz, MD, hip and knee orthopaedic surgeon at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, part of the MedStar Orthopaedic Institute.

William So, in 2021 Bill joined the growing ranks of Americans (800,000 per year) who undergo knee replacement surgery. However, Bill chose a somewhat uncommon approach: a partial knee replacement.

Bill’s choice was understandable given the benefits of a partial knee replacement. Its recovery time is just four-to-six weeks versus six-to-12 for a total knee replacement. Bill reports that he was walking hours after surgery, and that his pain only lasted a day or two.  “I did have a crutch,” says Bill. “But after a day or two, I didn’t need it. Since surgery my knee has been wholly without pain and is fully functional.”

According to Dr. Vaz, the partial procedure is less invasive. “Compared to total knee replacement, it requires a smaller incision. You don’t have to do as many bone cuts. There’s also lower opioid usage, a better range of motion, and half the risk of heart attack, stroke, or infection.” Because the bone, cartilage, and ligaments in the healthy parts of the knee are preserved, many patients report that a partial knee replacement feels more natural.

To be a candidate, a patient’s disease must be limited to one of the three main knee compartments. “While only 3% to 5% of knee replacements performed in the United States are partials, a much larger percentage of patients may be a reasonable candidate for the procedure,” explains Dr. Vaz.

That may be due to a common misconception. “In the past, partials have gotten a bad rap for having higher revision rates, that is, needing to be redone,” says Dr. Vaz. But things are changing. “One large study followed patients for 15 years, and the revision rate between the two was not significantly different. Even when redone, the outcomes of the revision of a partial are much closer to a first-time total knee replacement compared to a revision of a previous total knee.”

Dr. Vaz performs multiple knee replacements on a weekly basis, including partial knee replacements. He hopes that the procedure becomes more common for patients and surgeons. He saw the benefits regularly when training with some of the world’s foremost experts on the procedure.

Bill appreciated Dr. Vaz’s frankness. “He explained everything properly, and it worked out just as he said. He was great.” Bill was also confident in his team. “The care was first class, and MedStar Georgetown is really the best hospital in the area.”

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is part of our MedStar Orthopaedic Institute, with 50 orthopaedic surgeons at 19 locations throughout Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and Virginia. Visit for a complete listing of physicians and locations.

To learn more about our orthopaedic specialists at MedStar Georgetown, visit, or to make an appointment with one of our orthopaedic specialists, call 202-444-8766.

Meet Kenneth Vaz, MD and watch him discuss knee replacement surgery


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