Revision surgery for the stiff total knee arthroplasty

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The aim of this study was to examine the results of revision total knee arthroplasty (TKA) undertaken for stiffness in the absence of sepsis or loosening.

Patients and Methods

We present the results of revision surgery for stiff TKA in 48 cases (35 (72.9%) women and 13 (27.1%) men). The mean age at revision surgery was 65.5 years (42 to 83). All surgeries were performed by a single surgeon. Stiffness was defined as an arc of flexion of < 70° or a flexion contracture of > 15°. The changes in the range of movement (ROM) and the Western Ontario and McMasters Osteoarthritis index scores (WOMAC) were recorded.


At a mean follow-up of 59.9 months (12 to 272) there was a mean improvement in arc of movement of 45.0°. Mean flexion improved from 54.4° (5° to 100°) to 90° (10° to 125°) (p < 0.05) and the mean flexion contracture decreased from 12.0° (0° to 45°) to 3.5° (0° to 25°) (p < 0.05). The mean WOMAC scores improved for pain, stiffness and function. In patients with extreme stiffness we describe a novel technique, which we have called the ‘sloppy’ revision. This entails downsizing the polyethylene insert by 4 mm and using a more constrained liner to retain stability.


To our knowledge, this is the largest series of revision surgeries for stiffness reported in the literature where infection and loosening have been excluded.


Take home message: Whilst revision surgery is technically demanding, improvements in ROM and outcome can be achieved, particularly when the revision is within two years of the primary surgery.

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