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A case-control study of spontaneous patellar fractures following primary total knee replacement

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Peri-prosthetic patellar fracture following resurfacing as part of total knee replacement (TKR) is an infrequent yet challenging complication. This case-control study was performed to identify clinical, radiological and surgical factors that increase the risk of developing a spontaneous patellar fracture after TKR. Patellar fractures were identified in 74 patients (88 knees) from a series of 7866 consecutive TKRs conducted between 1998 and 2009. After excluding those with a previous history of extensor mechanism realignment or a clear traumatic event, a metal-backed patella, any uncemented component or subsequent infection, the remaining 64 fractures were compared with a matched group of TKRs with an excellent outcome defined by the Knee Society score. The mean age of patients with a fracture was 70 years (51 to 81) at the time of TKR. Patellar fractures were detected at a mean of 13.4 months (2 to 84) after surgery. The incidence of patellar fracture was found to be strongly associated with the number of previous knee operations, greater pre-operative mechanical malalignment, smaller post-operative patellar tendon length, thinner post-resection patellar thickness, and a lower post-operative Insall-Salvati ratio.

An understanding of the risk factors associated with spontaneous patellar fracture following TKR provides a valuable insight into prevention of this challenging complication.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr S. M. Kim; e-mail:

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