Five-Year Follow-up of Knee Joint Distraction: Clinical Benefit and Cartilaginous Tissue Repair in an Open Uncontrolled Prospective Study

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Abstract

Objective

In end-stage knee osteoarthritis, total knee arthroplasty (TKA) may finally become inevitable. At a relatively young age, this comes with the risk of future revision surgery. Therefore, in these cases, joint preserving surgery such as knee joint distraction (KJD) is preferred. Here we present 5-year follow-up data of KJD.

Design

Patients (n = 20; age <60 years) with conservative therapy resistant tibiofemoral osteoarthritis considered for TKA were treated. Clinical evaluation was performed by questionnaires. Change in cartilage thickness was quantified on radiographs and magnetic resonance images (MRI). The 5-year changes after KJD were evaluated and compared with the natural progression of osteoarthritis using Osteoarthritis Initiative data.

Results

Five-years posttreatment, patients still reported clinical improvement from baseline: ΔWOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index) +21.1 points (95% CI +8.9 to +33.3; P = 0.002), ΔVAS (visual analogue scale score) pain −27.6 mm (95%CI −13.3 to −42.0; P < 0.001), and minimum radiographic joint space width (JSW) of the most affected compartment (MAC) remained increased as well: Δ +0.43 mm (95% CI +0.02 to +0.84; P = 0.040). Improvement of mean JSW (x-ray) and mean cartilage thickness (MRI) of the MAC, were not statistically different from baseline anymore (Δ +0.26 mm; P = 0.370, and Δ +0.23 mm; P = 0.177). Multivariable linear regression analysis indicated that KJD treatment was associated with significantly less progression in mean and min JSW (x-ray) and mean cartilage thickness (MRI) compared with natural progression (all Ps <0.001).

Conclusions

KJD treatment results in prolonged clinical benefit, potentially explained by an initial boost of cartilaginous tissue repair that provides a long-term tissue structure benefit as compared to natural progression. Level of evidence, II.

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