Review article: knee flexion after total knee arthroplasty

J Orthop Surg (Hong Kong). 2002 Dec;10(2):194-202. doi: 10.1177/230949900201000215.


Many factors affect or predict the flexion range achieved after total knee arthroplasty. While the knees that have good preoperative flexion have better final flexion, knees with good preoperative flexion do lose some flexion whereas those with poor preoperative flexion can gain flexion. Although studies of different prosthetic designs have produced conflicting results, recent studies appear to favour posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)--substituting over PCL-retaining prostheses. Several factors related to surgical techniques have been found to be important. These include the tightness of the retained posterior cruciate ligament, the elevation of the joint line, increased patellar thickness, and a trapezoidal flexion gap. Vigorous rehabilitation after surgery appears useful, while continuous passive motion has not been found to be effective. Obesity and previous surgery are poor prognostic factors; certain cultural factors, such as the Japanese style of sitting, offer 'unintentional' passive flexion and result in patients with better range. If the flexion after surgery is unsatisfactory, manipulation under anaesthesia within 3 months of the total knee arthroplasty can be beneficial.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Treatment Outcome