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Clinical Services at Rush Am I a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Total Knee Replacement Surgery?
Program Description


Please read the information below to assess whether you may be a candidate for minimally invasive total knee replacement surgery.

Basic Anatomy of the Knee

The knee is a hinge joint between the femur (thighbone) and the tibia (shinbone). The joint is protected in front by the patella (kneecap). Cartilage on the ends of each bone and underneath the kneecap cushions the joint. Ligaments run along the sides and front of the knee connecting the shinbone to the thighbone at the center of the knee. These components of your knee, along with the muscles of your leg, work together to manage the stress your knee receives as you walk, run and jump.

Common Knee Disorders

Over time, the cartilage that cushions the joint can deteriorate, causing pain and stiffness, when bones rub directly against each other. Knee pain originally may be only felt when a person is bending or putting pressure on the knee (such as while walking or going up and down stairs).  Eventually the pain may become more frequent or nearly constant. Pain relieving medications or walking aids may work temporarily, but the only long-term solution in many cases is knee replacement surgery. 


The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, generally develops from “wear and tear” of the cartilage and lubricating surfaces of the bones that connect at the joint. As we age, many of us will develop degenerative arthritis of one or more of our joints. This arthritis is characterized by destruction of the natural cushioning and lubricating surfaces of the joint and may be accompanied by bony overgrowth (bone spurs).  In the most severe cases, all the cartilage will have worn away and there will be bone-on-bone contact. 

Avascular necrosis

Characterized by localized bone death, avascular necrosis results from disruption of blood flow to the bone. The bone death may be painful and usually causes the bone to collapse, which can lead to joint destruction and arthritis.  

Rheumatoid arthritis

An autoimmune disorder characterized by chronic inflammation of the affected joints, rheumatoid arthritis may involve multiple joints and can occur at any age. The inflammatory process of rheumatoid arthritis swells the cartilage, muscles, tendons and ligaments, which can misshape the joints, erode the cartilage and eventually lead to destruction of bone. 

Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Your doctor may have told you that you are a candidate for total knee replacement surgery. This surgery removes the damaged and painful areas of the thigh- and shinbones. These areas are then replaced with specially designed metal and plastic parts. 

Standard surgical incision for knee replacement

The standard surgical incision is between eight to 12 inches. The incision is made through the quadriceps tendons and muscles to position the replacement parts. Patients generally have two to three months recovery time. Much of the post-operative pain a patient feels is a result of the cutting of the tissues. While tissues are healing, scar tissue forms, which may cause pain and stiffness.

New minimally invasive total knee replacement procedure

This new technique at Rush has revolutionized total knee replacement surgery (sometimes referred to as total knee arthroplasty or TKA). The short incision total knee replacement is a surgical modification using a smaller incision that requires less muscle dissection, which generally results in more rapid and less painful recovery with better early range of motion and improved function.

The procedure involves the use of modified techniques and instruments to place the same clinically proven implants used in standard surgery, but through a much smaller incision. The minimally invasive replacement surgery is performed through one small three- to four-inch incision instead of the larger eight- to 12-inch incision of the standard surgical technique. This approach has the potential for dramatically reducing pain by sparing muscles and tendons that historically have been cut during standard total knee replacement surgery.

Potential benefits of this minimally invasive technique include increased range of motion sooner after surgery, less blood loss during surgery, faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay. In fact, many patients leave the hospital the same day.

Physicians at Rush were among the pioneers of this procedure and were the first to perform the innovative minimally invasive total knee procedure as an outpatient surgery. 

You may be a candidate for a minimally invasive total knee replacement procedure if:

  • Your primary care doctor or an orthopedic surgeon has told you that you need a knee replacement
  • Your knee structure is stable and you don’t suffer from severe bone loss around the knee
  • You have not had prior open knee surgery on the same knee
  • Your weight is proportionate to your height

For an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon specializing in joint replacement surgery, call (888) 352-RUSH.

Contact Name
Rush Physician Referral
Contact Phone
(888) 352-RUSH
Contact E-mail

LocationHours of Operation
Orthopedic Building
1611 W. Harrison St.
Chicago, IL 60612

Orthopedic surgeons at Rush see patients at various locations. To find an orthopedic surgeon who meets your needs, call (888) 352-RUSH.

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Am I a Candidate for Minimally Invasive Total Knee Replacement Surgery?

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