Background: Severe stiffness after total knee arthroplasty is a debilitating problem. In patients with securely fixed and appropriately aligned components, arthrolysis of adhesions and exchange to a thinner tibial polyethylene insert may appear to be a reasonable and logical solution. We reviewed our experience with this procedure to determine its efficacy. Methods: From 1992 through 1998, seven knees with marked stiffness after total knee arthroplasty were treated at our institution with arthrolysis of adhesions and conversion to a thinner tibial polyethylene insert. Only patients in whom the total knee prosthesis was well aligned, well fixed, and not associated with infection were included. There were five women and two men with a mean age at revision of sixty-one years (range, thirty-eight to seventy-four years). The average time to revision was twelve months, and the mean arc of motion prior to revision was 38.6° (range, 15° to 60°). The duration of follow-up after the insert exchange averaged 4.2 years (range, two to eight years). Results: Mean Knee Society pain and function scores changed from 44 and 36.4 points preoperatively to 39.6 and 46 points at the time of final follow-up. Two knees were rerevised, one because of infection and the other because of aseptic loosening of the components. The five remaining knees were painful and stiff at the time of final follow-up. Four of these five knees were severely painful, and one knee was moderately and occasionally painful. The mean arc of motion of these five knees was 58° (range, 40° to 70°) at the time of final follow-up. Conclusion: Isolated tibial insert exchange, arthrolysis, and débridement failed to provide a viable solution to the difficult and poorly understood problem of knee stiffness in a group of carefully selected patients following total knee arthroplasty. We therefore have little enthusiasm for the continued use of this strategy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine