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Iowa Orthop J. 2009;29:19-22.

Mid-vastus vs medial para-patellar approach in total knee replacement--time to discharge.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics, Morriston Hospital, Swansea, Wales, UK.



It has been shown before that when compared with the medial para-patellar approach, the mid-vastus approach for TKR results in less post-operative pain for patients and more rapid recovery of straight leg raise. As far as we are aware the post-operative length of stay of the two groups of patients has not been compared. We postulated that the reduced pain and more rapid recovery of straight leg raise would translate into an earlier, safe, discharge home for the mid-vastus patients compared with those who underwent a traditional medial para-patellar approach.


Twenty patients operated on by each of five established knee arthroplasty surgeons were evaluated prospectively with regard to their pre and post-operative range of movement, time to achieve straight leg raise post-operatively and length of post-operative hospital stay. Only one of the surgeons performed the mid-vastus approach, and the measurements were recorded by physiotherapists who were blinded as to the approach used on each patient.


The results were analysed using a standard statistical software package, and although the mean length of stay was lower for the mid-vastus patients, the difference did not reach a level of significance (p = 0.13). The time taken to achieve straight leg raise post-operatively was significantly less in the mid-vastus group (p<0.001).


Although this study confirms previous findings that the mid-vastus approach reduces the time taken for patients to achieve straight leg raise, when compared with the medial para-patellar approach, on its own it does not translate into a significantly shorter length of hospital stay. In order to reduce the length of post-operative hospital stay with an accelerated rehabilitation program for TKR, a multi-disciplinary approach is required. Patient expectations, GP support, physiotherapists and nursing staff all have a role to play and the mid-vastus approach, in permitting earlier straight leg raising, significantly contributes to this.

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