By the way, doctor: Minimally invasive knee replacement

Q. I need a knee replacement and am trying to decide between a minimally invasive operation and a traditional one. What do you think?

A. The traditional operation involves an incision that's about eight to 10 inches long that goes down the front of the knee and leg. With the minimally invasive operation, the incision is about half as long, and some of the operations use a "lateral" approach that involves making the incision on the outside of the knee. But the traditional and the minimally invasive operations have more in common than not. The surgeon still cuts away portions of the femur (thighbone) and the tibia (shin bone) that form the knee, and it still involves replacing them with a prosthesis that is designed to restore movement and decrease pain.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »