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J Arthroplasty. 1997 Aug;12(5):580-3.

Subtrochanteric stress fracture of the femur following total knee arthroplasty.

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Department of Orthopedics, University of Cologne, Germany.


This study reports the first case of a subtrochanteric stress fracture of the femur after total knee arthroplasty. A 61-year-old obese woman was treated by right total knee arthroplasty for osteoarthrosis. Four months after the surgery and 1 month after full weight bearing, she complained of tenderness in the right groin and proximal thigh. There was no history of trauma. Radiographs of the right hip and of the right proximal femur were interpreted as unremarkable, and nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs were administered. Three months later, she had a sudden onset of increased pain with instability and giving way of the right leg. Radiographs revealed a subtrochanteric transverse fracture of the right femur. Histologic workup of the bone and tissue specimen taken at open reduction, as well as the laboratory data were consistent with the radiologic and clinical diagnosis of a stress fracture. It is most likely that a decrease in the tension band effect of the iliotibial tract in combination with coxa vara and changes in static and dynamic forces of the femur and an increased level of activity after a period of relative inactivity secondary to the knee arthroplasty are responsible for this very uncommon fracture type.

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