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Electrocautery of the patellar rim in primary total knee replacement: beneficial or unnecessary?

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The management of the patella during total knee replacement is controversial. In some studies the absence of patellar resurfacing results in residual anterior knee pain in over 10% of patients. One form of treatment which may be used in an endeavour to reduce this is circumferential patellar rim electrocautery. This is believed to partially denervate the patella. However, there is no evidence of the efficacy of this procedure, nor do we know if it results in harm.

A retrospective comparative cohort study was performed of 192 patients who had undergone a primary total knee replacement with the porous coated Low Contact Stress rotating platform prosthesis without patellar resurfacing between 2003 and 2007. In 98 patients circumferential electrocautery of the patellar rim was performed and in 94 patients it was not. The two groups were matched for gender and age. The general Oxford Knee Score and the more specific patellar score for anterior knee pain were used to assess patient outcomes a minimum of two years post-operatively.

No statistically significant differences were noted between the groups for either scoring system (p = 0.41 and p = 0.87, respectively). Electrocautery of the patella rim did not improve the outcome scores after primary total knee replacement in our patients.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr S. Gupta; e-mail: sanjaygupta@doctors.org.uk

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