Aims: Knee joint distraction (KJD) is a relatively new, knee-joint preserving procedure with the goal of delaying total knee arthroplasty (TKA) in young and middle-aged patients. We present a randomised controlled trial comparing the two.
Patients and methods: The 60 patients ≤ 65 years with end-stage knee osteoarthritis were randomised to either KJD (n = 20) or TKA (n = 40). Outcomes were assessed at baseline, three, six, nine, and 12 months. In the KJD group, the joint space width (JSW) was radiologically assessed, representing a surrogate marker of cartilage thickness.
Results: In total 56 patients completed their allocated treatment (TKA = 36, KJD = 20). All patient reported outcome measures improved significantly over one year (p < 0.02) in both groups. At one year, the TKA group showed a greater improvement in only one of the 16 patient-related outcome measures assessed (p = 0.034). Outcome Measures in Rheumatology-Osteoarthritis Research Society International clinical response was 83% after TKA and 80% after KJD. A total of 12 patients (60%) in the KJD group sustained pin track infections. In the KJD group both mean minimum (0.9 mm, standard deviation (sd) 1.1) and mean JSW (1.2 mm, sd 1.1) increased significantly (p = 0.004 and p = 0.0003).
Conclusion: In relatively young patients with end-stage knee osteoarthritis, KJD did not demonstrate inferiority of outcomes at one year when compared with TKA. However, there is a high incidence of pin track infection associated with KJD. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2017;99-B:51-8.
Keywords: Cartilage repair; Joint distraction; Knee osteoarthritis; Randomised controlled trial; Total knee arthroplasty.
©2017 The British Editorial Society of Bone & Joint Surgery.