Minimally invasive surgical techniques allow knee replacement procedures to be performed with less damage to the surrounding tissues, potentially providing several benefits to patients.


Over half of a million people undergo a total knee replacement procedure each year, and whenever possible, minimally invasive techniques are pursued. The traditional approach to knee replacement uses a long vertical incision in the center of the knee to view and access the joint. Minimally invasive total knee replacement is a variation of this approach. The surgeon uses a shorter incision and a different, less-invasive technique to expose the joint—with the goal of reducing postoperative pain and speeding recovery. Based on the type and severity of damage present Dr. O’Keefe will determine the best approach for knee replacement, helping patients achieve the most optimal results possible.

  • Knee Surgery in Minnesota
  • ACL/Meniscus Injury
  • Partial vs. Total Knee Replacement
  • Knee Replacement Surgery
  • Partial Knee Replacement
  • Minimally Invasive Knee Surgery
  • Custom Knee Replacement (Visionaire)

Causes and Symptoms

Knee pain and subsequent disability are often associated with the breakdown of cartilage and bone, which results in increased friction and pressure within the joint mechanism. This damage can stem from arthritic inflammation, a specific injury event, or general wear-and-tear. Factors that influence the likelihood of developing such knee damage include: genetics, age, obesity, and the prevalence of high-impact activities (i.e. running or court-based sports).

Disintegration of the knee joint is often progressive in nature, as symptoms grow more frequent and severe over time. Common symptoms of advanced knee damage include:

  • Radiating pain
  • Inability to fully extend or bend the joint
  • Difficulty walking, climbing stairs, or standing from a seated position
  • Swelling

If knee pain and lost function inhibit the ability to complete basic, everyday activities, orthopedic care may be necessary for successful recovery.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

In determining the best approach for joint replacement, Dr. O’Keefe will complete a comprehensive examination of both overarching patient health and the specific knee damage present. In addition to the completion of basic strength and flexibility tests, a symptom history will be taken to document the course of injury progression. An X-ray, MRI, CT scan, or other diagnostic test may also be used to identify all of the aspects of joint damage for orthopedic correction and care.

Upon the initial diagnosis, nonsurgical treatment methods will likely be prescribed to reduce the severity of any symptoms present. These efforts may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory and pain medications
  • Steroid injections
  • Orthotics (bracing) or use of supports
  • Behavior modification
  • Exercise and/or weight management programs

Depending on the level of relief achieved, Dr. O’Keefe will recommend the appropriate surgical approach for further knee correction. If joint replacement is required, minimally invasive methods will be employed whenever possible.

During a minimally invasive procedure (either partial, or total in nature), a 4-6 inch incision will be utilized compared to an incision 8-10 inches in length. Through this incision, damaged bone and cartilage will be removed, and subsequently, replaced with the prosthetic components. Commonly reported benefits of this approach to replacement include:

  • Reduced blood loss
  • Shorter hospital stay and/or recovery time
  • Minimized scarring
  • Better motion (post-operation)

Post-Op Recovery and Rehabilitation

As with any surgery, there are risks associated with minimally invasive knee replacement. During the recovery period, it is important that Dr. O’Keefe’s prescribed approach for rehabilitation be followed precisely. Likewise, if any symptoms of concern arise, they should be reported to the orthopedic team immediately.

Following a minimally invasive joint replacement, prescription medications will likely be recommended for use in combination with basic at-home exercises and formal physical therapy. Regular checkups will be completed with Dr. O’Keefe, who will advise the patient as to a gradual and safe return to both every day and recreational activities.

Candidates for Minimally Invasive Total Knee Replacement

Minimally invasive total knee replacement is not suitable for all patients. Your doctor will conduct a thorough evaluation and consider several factors before determining if the procedure is an option for you.

In general, candidates for minimal incision procedures are thinner, younger, healthier and more motivated to participate in the rehabilitation process, compared with patients who undergo the traditional surgery.

Minimally invasive surgeries may be less suitable for patients who are overweight or who have already undergone other knee surgeries.

In addition, patients who have a significant deformity of the knee, those who are very muscular, and those with health problems that may slow wound healing may be at a higher risk for problems from minimally invasive total knee replacement.

Expertise in Minimally Invasive Surgery: Dr. Patrick O’Keefe

Dr. O’Keefe specializes in the completion of both partial and total knee replacements, and is trained in the most up-to-date procedural technologies. To learn more about care options, schedule an appointment with either his Coon Rapids, Blaine, or Otsego MN office at 763-441-0298.