In many cases it is sufficient just to replace the damaged structures close to the knee joint. This involves fitting a femur joint replacement to the condyle and a tibial plateau replacement to the shinbone. A plastic insert acts as a low-friction bearing between the two. The back of the kneecap can also be replaced with a plastic cap.
This procedure is referred to as resurfacing as only the damaged surfaces are replaced. One benefit of this intervention is that the bone material is preserved and the important, supportive tendon structures are retained as much as possible. For this reason, this procedure is currently the standard knee replacement operation.