Knee Joint Distraction Compared with High Tibial Osteotomy and Total Knee Arthroplasty: Two-Year Clinical, Radiographic, and Biochemical Marker Outcomes of Two Randomized Controlled Trials

Cartilage. 2019 Feb 13;1947603519828432. doi: 10.1177/1947603519828432. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Both, knee joint distraction (KJD) and high tibial osteotomy (HTO) are joint-preserving surgeries that postpone total knee arthroplasty (TKA) in younger osteoarthritis (OA) patients. Here we evaluate the 2-year follow-up of KJD versus TKA and KJD versus HTO in 2 noninferiority studies.

Design: Knee OA patients indicated for TKA were randomized to KJD ( n = 20; KJDTKA) or TKA ( n = 40). Medial compartmental knee OA patients considered for HTO were randomized to KJD ( n = 23; KJDHTO) or HTO ( n = 46). Patient-reported outcome measures were assessed over 2 years of follow-up. The radiographic joint space width (JSW) was measured yearly. In the KJD groups, serum-PIIANP and urinary-CTXII levels were measured as collagen type-II synthesis and breakdown markers. It was hypothesized that there was no clinically important difference in the primary outcome, the total WOMAC, when comparing KJD with HTO and with TKA.

Results: Both trials were completed, with 114 patients (19 KJDTKA; 34 TKA; 20 KJDHTO; 41 HTO) available for 2-year analyses. At 2 years, the total WOMAC score (KJDTKA: +38.9 [95%CI 28.8-48.9] points; TKA: +42.1 [34.5-49.7]; KJDHTO: +26.8 [17.1-36.6]; HTO: +34.4 [28.0-40.7]; all: P < 0.05) and radiographic minimum JSW (KJDTKA: +0.9 [0.2-1.6] mm; KJDHTO: +0.9 [0.5-1.4]; HTO: +0.6 [0.3-0.9]; all: P < 0.05) were still increased for all groups. The net collagen type-II synthesis 2 years after KJD was increased ( P < 0.05). Half of KJD patients experienced pin tract infections, successfully treated with oral antibiotics.

Conclusions: Sustained improvement of clinical benefit and (hyaline) cartilage thickness increase after KJD is demonstrated. KJD was clinically noninferior to HTO and TKA in the primary outcome.

Keywords: distraction; joint-preserving surgery; knee joint distraction (KJD); randomized controlled trial (RCT).