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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1990 Nov;(260):135-43.

Bone loss in the distal anterior femur after total knee arthroplasty.

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Orthopedic Research Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.


Bone loss in the distal anterior femur in asymptomatic total knee arthroplasty (TKA) patients has been noted roentgenographically and during revision surgery. A retrospective roentgenographic review of 147 TKA cases was carried out to document bone loss. The influence that the mode of fixation (porous coated and cemented) and the implant design have on bone loss was examined. The time of onset and the progression of bone loss were studied. Bone loss occurred in the distal anterior femur in the majority of cases reviewed (68%). The prevalence of bone loss was independent of the mode of fixation and the implant design. By qualitative observation, roentgenographically detectable bone loss occurred within the first postoperative year and did not progress further. Previously three-dimensional finite element analysis demonstrated that the replacement of the bearing surface of the femur with a stiff metallic implant reduces the stress in the distal anterior femur by at least one order of magnitude. It is therefore speculated that the observed bone loss results from stress shielding. The apparent lack of progression may reflect the development of a new remodeling equilibrium under the altered stress conditions. The bone loss in the distal anterior femur described has not been implicated as a source of failure. However, since the bone strength in the femoral region is compromised as it becomes osteopenic, bone failure may occur with longer periods of cyclic loading. Furthermore, as a result of bone loss, revision arthroplasty may be more difficult.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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