Catastrophic polyethylene failure diagnosed with magnetic resonance imaging in a painful total knee arthroplasty

J Arthroplasty. 2011 Apr;26(3):505.e13-5. doi: 10.1016/j.arth.2010.01.004. Epub 2010 Mar 23.


Determining the etiology of a painful knee after arthroplasty can be extremely challenging. Traditionally, orthopedists relied mainly on physical examination, laboratory results, serial radiographs, and 3-phase bone or indium-labeled white blood cell scans; however, recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) software have given orthopedists another powerful tool in their diagnostic armamentarium. We provide the MRI software modification technique for metallic artifact reduction as well as present a novel case in which MRI was used to diagnose catastrophic polyethylene postfailure in a posterior cruciate ligament substituting knee. Although the role for MRI in the postarthroplasty knee has yet to be clearly defined, its utility in working up a painful arthroplasty when history, physical examination, and other diagnostic utilities fail to provide answers is clearly demonstrated in this case.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Arthralgia / etiology*
  • Arthralgia / pathology
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint / pathology
  • Knee Prosthesis / adverse effects*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyethylene / adverse effects*
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament / pathology
  • Prosthesis Failure / adverse effects*
  • Radiography


  • Polyethylene