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General Orthopaedics


Current Concepts in Joint Replacement (CCJR) – Spring 2015


Surgical exposure during revision total knee arthroplasty is the most essential part of the procedure. An appropriate surgical exposure protects the extensor mechanism, facilitates safe implant removal and allows for accurate reimplantation of components and appropriate soft tissue balancing. The pre-operative plan is critical to achieving appropriate exposure in the revision setting. Evaluating the skin and previous incisions and determining range of motion will aid in deciding which exposure technique is most appropriate.

The key to exposure in revision total knee arthroplasty is patience. Approximately 90% of revision total knees can be adequately exposed with a standard medial parapatellar arthrotomy, a proximal medial tibial exposure, complete synovectomy and clearing of the medial and lateral gutters. The patella need not be everted in the revision setting and extreme care must be taken to protect the extensor mechanism. In cases where standard exposure techniques are inadequate or may jeopardise the extensor mechanism, a quadriceps snip may be performed. This takes tension off the stiff knee, is easy to repair and does not require limitation of rehabilitation protocols. The tibial tubercle osteotomy is utilised in patients with extreme stiffness and to aid in removal of well-fixed tibial components. General principles include keeping the osteotomy fragment long (8–10 cm) and leaving a lateral periosteal bridge and soft tissue attachment to aid in repair and healing of the fragment. Other techniques such as the quadricepsplasty or V-Y turndown may be utilised but are rarely needed.