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Arthrodesis of the knee after failed infected total knee arthroplasty


Infection after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) can be a challenging and difficult problem to treat. In selected patients, knee arthrodesis is a well-recognized salvage procedure after infected TKA. The authors retrospectively reviewed their experience with this treatment option, presenting 20 patients (8 women, 12 men), performed between 1990 and 2002. The average age was 67 years (range: 47–81 years) and the mean number of previous surgical procedures was 6 (range: 4–11 procedures). There were multiple indications for knee arthrodesis, including extensive bone or soft tissue loss, poor bone stock, and recurring infections. One-stage fusion was done in 7 knees while, on the other 13, arthrodesis was performed as two-stage fusions. The average clinical follow-up was 4.5 years (range: 2–11 years). 18 of the 20 patients were interviewed and graded using the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) for pain, the Short Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36), and the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) questionnaire that has knee-related quality of life items. According to the VAS, the mean intensity was 3.4 points. 6 (33%) of the patients had no difficulty with the knee and 9 (50%) of them had mild or moderate difficulty. The SF-36 scores were similar to those for normative data for patients after TKA, with only the social functioning, role emotional, and physical functioning scores being lower and the role physical and social functioning scores being higher. Three of 20 fusions failed, whereas two knees became non-infected non-unions. In one, the knee infection persisted and required above-knee amputation. The two-stage arthrodesis gave the most predictable rate of fusion. Persistent infection and extensive bone stock losses led to failure even under the best circumstances. In our opinion, arthrodesis of the knee is a satisfactory salvage procedure following a failed TKA, and can provide reliable expectation for a stable, painless extremity for high-functioning patients who are able to walk.

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Correspondence to Hans-Michael Klinger.

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Klinger, H., Spahn, G., Schultz, W. et al. Arthrodesis of the knee after failed infected total knee arthroplasty. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 14, 447–453 (2006).

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  • Total knee arthroplasty
  • Infection
  • Revision surgery
  • Arthrodesis