Stepwise surgical correction of instability in flexion after total knee replacement

Bone Joint J. 2014 Dec;96-B(12):1644-8. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.96B12.34821.


Instability in flexion after total knee replacement (TKR) typically occurs as a result of mismatched flexion and extension gaps. The goals of this study were to identify factors leading to instability in flexion, the degree of correction, determined radiologically, required at revision surgery, and the subsequent clinical outcomes. Between 2000 and 2010, 60 TKRs in 60 patients underwent revision for instability in flexion associated with well-fixed components. There were 33 women (55%) and 27 men (45%); their mean age was 65 years (43 to 82). Radiological measurements and the Knee Society score (KSS) were used to assess outcome after revision surgery. The mean follow-up was 3.6 years (2 to 9.8). Decreased condylar offset (p < 0.001), distalisation of the joint line (p < 0.001) and increased posterior tibial slope (p < 0.001) contributed to instability in flexion and required correction at revision to regain stability. The combined mean correction of posterior condylar offset and joint line resection was 9.5 mm, and a mean of 5° of posterior tibial slope was removed. At the most recent follow-up, there was a significant improvement in the mean KSS for the knee and function (both p < 0.001), no patient reported instability and no patient underwent further surgery for instability. The following step-wise approach is recommended: reduction of tibial slope, correction of malalignment, and improvement of condylar offset. Additional joint line elevation is needed if the above steps do not equalise the flexion and extension gaps.

Keywords: Total Knee Arthroplasty; Total knee replacement; Flexion Instability; Posterior-stabilised; Cruciate-retaining; Revision.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / etiology
  • Joint Instability / surgery*
  • Knee Joint* / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Joint* / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Radiography
  • Reoperation
  • Treatment Outcome