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Volume 89-B, Issue 6 June 2007

Review Article
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J. S. Mulford C. J. Wakeley J. D. J. Eldridge

Chronic patellofemoral instability can be a disabling condition. Management of patients with this condition has improved owing to our increased knowledge of the functional anatomy of the patellofemoral joint. Accurate assessment of the underlying pathology in the unstable joint enables the formulation of appropriate treatment. The surgical technique employed in patients for whom non-operative management has failed should address the diagnosed abnormality. We have reviewed the literature on the stabilising features of the patellofemoral joint, the recommended investigations and the appropriate forms of treatment.

The OrthoChina project Pages 717 - 720
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M. Zhen-Sheng Z. Hong-Ju Y. Tao R. Gang D. Guo-Sheng W. Yong-Hua

Online case discussion may be used for the education of orthopaedic surgeons. The authors developed a website for discussing orthopaedic cases nine years ago and describe its management. It currently has 20 000 registered users.

D. N. Garras T. T. Crowder S. A. Olson

We studied the medium-term outcome of the Bernese periacetabular osteotomy in 52 patients (58 hips) with symptomatic developmental dysplasia of the hip and a mean age of 37.6 years (13 to 48).

The operations were performed between 1993 and 2005 by the senior author with a mean follow-up of 66.7 months (13 to 153). There were 42 women (47 hips) and ten men (11 hips). Of these patients, 24 (30 hips) had an osteotomy on the right side and 22 (28 hips) on the left. Six patients had bilateral operations. The clinical outcome was assessed using the modified Merle d’Aubigne scale, and pre- and post-operative radiological evaluation using the modified Tonnis osteoarthritis score, the centre-edge angle, the acetabular index, the status of Shenton’s line, and the cross-over sign.

The mean centre-edge angle and the acetabular index were 14° (2° to 34°) and 23.6° (0° to 40°) before operation, and 36.6° (16° to 72°) and 7.9° (0° to 28°) after, respectively (p < 0.001, analysis of variance (ANOVA)). Shenton’s line was intact in 23 hips (39.6%) before operation and in 48 hips (82.8%) after. The cross-over sign was present in 31 hips (53.4%) before and in three hips (5.2%) after operation (p < 0.001, ANOVA). The total Merle d’Aubigne clinical score improved from a mean of 12.6 (9 to 15) to 16.0 (12 to 18) points (p < 0.001, ANOVA). Only four hips required subsequent total hip replacement.

Our results indicate that the Bernese periacetabular osteotomy provides good symptomatic relief for patients with little to no arthritis (Tonnis type 0 or 1) with an underlying deformity that can be corrected to a position of a stable, congruent hip joint.

S. Ikemura T. Yamamoto S. Jingushi Y. Nakashima T. Mawatari Y. Iwamoto

Transtrochanteric curved varus osteotomy was designed to avoid some of the disadvantages of varus wedge osteotomy, such as post-operative leg-length discrepancy. In this retrospective study we investigated the leg-length discrepancy and clinical outcome after transtrochanteric curved varus osteotomy undertaken in patients with osteonecrosis of the femoral head. Between January 1993 and March 2004, this osteotomy was performed in 42 hips of 36 patients with osteonecrosis of the femoral head. There were 15 males and 21 females with a mean age at surgery of 34 years (15 to 68). The mean follow-up was 5.9 years (2.0 to 12.5). The mean pre-operative Harris hip score was 64.0 (43 to 85) points, which improved to a mean of 88.7 (58 to 100) points at final follow-up. The mean varus angulation post-operatively was 25° (12° to 38°) and the post-operative mean leg-length discrepancy was 13 mm (4 to 25). The post-operative leg-length discrepancy showed a strong correlation with varus angulation (Pearson’s correlation coefficient; r = 0.9530, p < 0.0001), which may be useful for predicting the leg-length discrepancy which can occur even after transtrochanteric curved varus osteotomy.

B. Derbyshire M. L. Porter

We performed a three-year radiostereometric analysis (RSA) study of the Elite Plus femoral component on 25 patients undergoing primary total hip replacement. Additional assessments and measurements from standard radiographs were also made.

Subsidence of the stem occurred at the cement-stem interface. At 36 months the subsidence of the stem centroid was a mean of 0.30 mm (0.02 to 1.28), and was continuing at a slow rate. At the same time point, internal rotation and posterior migration of the femoral head had ceased. One stem migrated excessively and additional assessments suggested that this was probably due to high patient demand.

The failure rate of 4% in our study is consistent with data from arthroplasty registers but contrasts with poor results from another RSA study, and from some clinical studies. We believe that the surgical technique, particularly the use of high-viscosity cement, may have been an important factor contributing to our results.

J. Daniel H. Ziaee P. B. Pynsent D. J. W. McMinn

Metal ions generated from joint replacements are a cause for concern. There is no consensus on the best surrogate measure of metal ion exposure. This study investigates whether serum and whole blood concentrations can be used interchangeably to report results of cobalt and chromium ion concentrations.

Concentrations of serum and whole blood were analysed in 262 concurrent specimens using high resolution inductively-coupled plasma mass-spectrometry. The agreement was assessed with normalised scatterplots, mean difference and the Bland and Altman limits of agreement.

The wide variability seen in the normalised scatterplots, in the Bland and Altman plots and the statistically significant mean differences between serum and whole blood concentrations suggest that they cannot be used interchangeably. A bias was demonstrated for both ions in the Bland-Altman plots. Regression analysis provided a possible conversion factor of 0.71 for cobalt and 0.48 for chromium. However, even when the correction factors were applied, the limits of agreement were greater than ±67% for cobalt and greater than ±85% for chromium, suggesting that serum and whole blood cannot be used interconvertibly. This suggests that serum metal concentrations are not useful as a surrogate measure of systemic metal ion exposure.

P. Harvie M. Haroon N. Henderson M. El-Guindi

We describe three cases of fracture of the titanium JRI-Furlong hydroxyapatite-ceramic (HAC)-coated femoral component. We have examined previous case reports of failure of this stem and conclude that fracture may occur in two places, namely at the neck-shoulder junction and at the conical-distal cylindrical junction. These breakages are the result of fatigue in a metallurgically-proven normal femoral component. All the cases of failure of the femoral component have occurred in patients with a body mass index of more than 25 in whom a small component, either size 9 or 10, had been used.

In patients with a body mass index above normal size 9 components should be avoided and the femoral canal should be reamed sufficiently to accept a large femoral component to ensure that there is adequate metaphyseal fixation.

Y. Yamada Y. Toritsuka H. Yoshikawa K. Sugamoto S. Horibe K. Shino

We investigated the three-dimensional morphological differences of the articular surface of the femoral trochlea in patients with recurrent dislocation of the patella and a normal control group using three-dimensional computer models.

There were 12 patients (12 knees) and ten control subjects (ten knees). Three-dimensional computer models of the femur, including the articular cartilage, were created. Evaluation was performed on the shape of the articular surface, focused on its convexity, and the proximal and mediolateral distribution of the articular cartilage of the femoral trochlea. The extent of any convexity, and the proximal distribution of the articular cartilage, expressed as the height, were shown by the angles about the transepicondylar axis. The mediolateral distribution of the articular cartilage was assessed by the location of the medial and lateral borders of the articular cartilage.

The mean extent of convexity was 24.9° sd 6.7° for patients and 11.9° sd 3.6° for the control group (p < 0.001). The mean height of the articular cartilage was 91.3° sd 8.3° for the patients and 83.3° sd 7.7° for the control group (p = 0.03), suggesting a wider convex trochlea in the patients with recurrent dislocation of the patella caused by the proximally-extended convex area. The lateral border of the articular cartilage of the trochlea in the patients was more laterally located than in the control group.

Our findings therefore quantitatively demonstrated differences in the shape and distribution of the articular cartilage on the femoral trochlea between patients with dislocation of the patella and normal subjects.

Y. Yamada Y. Toritsuka S. Horibe K. Sugamoto H. Yoshikawa K. Shino

We used three-dimensional movement analysis by computer modelling of knee flexion from 0° to 50° in 14 knees in 12 patients with recurrent patellar dislocation and in 15 knees in ten normal control subjects to compare the in vivo three-dimensional movement of the patella. Flexion, tilt and spin of the patella were described in terms of rotation angles from 0°. The location of the patella and the tibial tubercle were evaluated using parameters expressed as percentage patellar shift and percentage tubercle shift. Patellar inclination to the femur was also measured and patellofemoral contact was qualitatively and quantitatively analysed.

The patients had greater values of spin from 20° to 50°, while there were no statistically significant differences in flexion and tilt. The patients also had greater percentage patellar shift from 0° to 50°, percentage tubercle shift at 0° and 10° and patellar inclination from 0° to 50° with a smaller oval-shaped contact area from 20° to 50° moving downwards on the lateral facet.

Patellar movement analysis using a three-dimensional computer model is useful to clearly demonstrate differences between patients with recurrent dislocation of the patella and normal control subjects.

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A. J. Barnett R. O. E. Gardner B. J. A. Lankester C. J. Wakeley J. D. J. Eldridge

We retrospectively analysed the MR scans of 25 patients with patellofemoral dysplasia and ten control subjects, to assess whether there was any change in the morphology of the patella along its vertical length. Ratios were calculated comparing the size of the cartilaginous and subchondral osseous surfaces of the lateral and medial facets. We also classified the morphology using the scoring systems of Baumgartl and Wiberg. There were 18 females and seven males with a mean age of 20.2 years (10 to 29) with dysplasia and two females and eight males with a mean age of 20.4 years (10 to 29) in the control group.

In the patient group there was a significant difference in morphology from proximal to distal for the cartilaginous (Analysis of variance (ANOVA) p = 0.004) and subchondral osseous surfaces (ANOVA, p = 0.002). In the control group there was no significant difference for either the cartilaginous (ANOVA, p = 0.391) or the subchondral osseous surface (ANOVA, p = 0.526).

Our study has shown that in the dysplastic patellofemoral articulation the medial facet of the patella becomes smaller in relation to the lateral facet from proximal to distal. MRI is needed to define clearly the cartilaginous and osseous morphology of the patella before surgery is considered for patients with patellofemoral dysplasia.

F. J. Shannon J. J. Cronin M. S. Cleary S. J. Eustace J. M. O’Byrne

Our aims were to map the tibial footprint of the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) using MRI in patients undergoing PCL-preserving total knee replacement, and to document the disruption of this footprint as a result of the tibial cut. In 26 consecutive patients plain radiography and MRI of the knee were performed pre-operatively, and plain radiography post-operatively.

The lower margin of the PCL footprint was located a mean of 1 mm (−10 to 8) above the upper aspect of the fibular head. The mean surface area was 83 mm2 (49 to 142). One-third of patients (8 of 22) had tibial cuts made below the lowest aspect of the PCL footprint (complete removal) and one-third (9 of 22) had cuts extending into the footprint (partial removal). The remaining patients (5 of 22) had footprints unaffected by the cuts, keeping them intact.

Our study highlights the wide variation in the location of the tibial PCL footprint when referenced against the fibula. Proximal tibial cuts using conventional jigs resulted in the removal of a significant portion, if not all of the PCL footprint in most of the patients in our study. Our findings suggest that when performing PCL-retaining total knee replacement the tibial attachment of the PCL is often removed.

Foot & Ankle
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F. von Knoch U. Reckord M. von Knoch C. Sommer

We investigated the clinical and radiological outcome after unilateral fracture of the lateral process of the talus in 23 snowboarders with a mean follow-up of 3.5 years (12 to 76 months). In this consecutive cohort study both operative and non-operative cases were considered.

The mean American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society hindfoot score was 94 (82 to 100). The non-operative group of seven with a minimally-displaced fracture scored higher (98 points) than the operative group of 16 with displaced or unstable fractures (93 points). In 88% of operative cases, significant concomitant hindfoot injuries were found at operation. All but eight (35%) patients (six operative and two non-operative) regained their pre-injury level of sporting activity. Subtalar osteoarthritis was present in nine (45%) of the 20 patients available for radiological review, including one late-diagnosed non-operative case and eight operative cases with associated injuries or fracture comminution.

The outcome after fracture of the lateral process of the talus in snowboarders is favourable provided an early diagnosis is made and adequate treatment, which is related to the degree of displacement and associated injuries, is undertaken.

Upper Limb
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S. Sharma L. A. Rymaszewski

We present a retrospective study of 25 patients treated by open arthrolysis of the elbow for post-traumatic stiffness. The mean follow-up was for 7.8 years (5 to 10.8). The range of movement of the elbow, pain scores and functional outcomes were recorded pre- and postoperatively. An improvement in the mean range of movement from 55° (0° to 95°) to 105° (55° to 135°) was obtained in our patients at one year. This improvement was maintained over the mean follow-up period of 7.8 years (5 to 10.8). Improvement in pain, function and patient satisfaction was recorded in 23 of the 25 patients at final follow-up.

On the basis of this study, we believe that the results of open arthrolysis for post-traumatic stiffness of the elbow are durable over the medium term.

G. L. Cribb D. C. Jaffray V. N. Cassar-Pullicino

We have treated 15 patients with massive lumbar disc herniations non-operatively. Repeat MR scanning after a mean 24 months (5 to 56) showed a dramatic resolution of the herniation in 14 patients. No patient developed a cauda equina syndrome.

We suggest that this condition may be more benign than previously thought.

R. Ross A. H. Mirza H. E. Norris M. Khatri

Between January 1990 and December 2000 we carried out 226 SB Charité III disc replacements for lumbar disc degeneration in 160 patients. They were reviewed at a mean follow-up of 79 months (31 to 161) to determine the clinical and radiological outcome. The clinical results were collected by an independent observer, who was not involved in patient selection, treatment or follow-up, using a combination of outcome measures, including the Oswestry Disability Index. Pain was recorded using a visual analogue score, and the most recent radiographs were reviewed.

Survival of the device was analysed by the Kaplan-Meier method and showed a cumulative survival of 35% at 156 months when radiological failure was taken as the endpoint. The mean improvement in the Oswestry disability index scores after disc replacement was 14% (6% to 21%) and the mean improvement in the pain score was 1.6 (0.46 to 2.73), both falling below the clinically significant threshold. Removal of the implant was required in 12 patients, four because of implant failure.

These poor results indicate that further use of this implant is not justified.

A. R. Norrish C. P. Lewis W. J. Harrison

Patients infected with HIV presenting with an open fracture of a long bone are difficult to manage. There is an unacceptably high rate of post-operative infection after internal fixation. There are no published data on the use of external fixation in such patients. We compared the rates of pin-track infection in HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients presenting with an open fracture. There were 47 patients with 50 external fixators, 13 of whom were HIV-positive (15 fixators).

There were significantly more pin-track infections requiring pharmaceutical or surgical intervention (Checketts grade 2 or greater) in the HIV-positive group (t-test, p = 0.001). The overall rate of severe pin-track infection in the HIV-positive patients requiring removal of the external-fixator pins was 7%. This contrasts with other published data which have shown higher rates of wound infection if open fractures are treated by internal fixation.

We recommend the use of external fixation for the treatment of open fractures in HIV-positive patients.

E. J. Strauss J. B. Frank M. Walsh K. J. Koval K. A. Egol

Many orthopaedic surgeons believe that obese patients have a higher rate of peri-operative complications and a worse functional outcome than non-obese patients. There is, however, inconsistency in the literature supporting this notion.

This study was performed to evaluate the effect of body mass index (BMI) on injury characteristics, the incidence of complications, and the functional outcome after the operative management of unstable ankle fractures.

We retrospectively reviewed 279 patients (99 obese (BMI ≥ 30) and 180 non-obese (BMI < 30) patients who underwent surgical fixation of an unstable fracture of the ankle. We found that obese patients had a higher number of medical co-morbidities, and more Orthopaedic Trauma Association type B and C fracture types than non-obese patients. At two years from the time of injury, however, the presence of obesity did not affect the incidence of complications, the time to fracture union or the level of function.

These findings suggest that obese patients should be treated in line with standard procedures, keeping in mind any known associated medical co-morbidities.

D. Warwick R. J. Friedman G. Agnelli E. Gil-Garay K. Johnson G. FitzGerald F. M. Turibio

Patients who have undergone total hip or knee replacement (THR and TKR, respectively) are at high risk of venous thromboembolism. We aimed to determine the time courses of both the incidence of venous thromboembolism and effective prophylaxis. Patients with elective primary THR and TKR were enrolled in the multi-national Global Orthopaedic Registry. Data on the incidence of venous thromboembolism and prophylaxis were collected from 6639 THR and 8326 TKR patients.

The cumulative incidence of venous thromboembolism within three months of surgery was 1.7% in the THR and 2.3% in the TKR patients. The mean times to venous thromboembolism were 21.5 days (sd 22.5) for THR, and 9.7 days (sd 14.1) for TKR. It occurred after the median time to discharge in 75% of the THR and 57% of the TKA patients who developed venous thromboembolism. Of those who received recommended forms of prophylaxis, approximately one-quarter (26% of THR and 27% of TKR patients) were not receiving it seven days after surgery, the minimum duration recommended at the time of the study.

The risk of venous thromboembolism extends beyond the usual period of hospitalisation, while the duration of prophylaxis is often shorter than this. Practices should be re-assessed to ensure that patients receive appropriate durations of prophylaxis.

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S. Kalra R. J. Grimer D. Spooner S. R. Carter R. M. Tillman A. Abudu

We identified 42 patients who presented to our unit over a 27-year period with a secondary radiation-induced sarcoma of bone. We reviewed patient, tumour and treatment factors to identify those that affected outcome. The mean age of the patients at presentation was 45.6 years (10 to 84) and the mean latent interval between radiotherapy and diagnosis of the sarcoma was 17 years (4 to 50). The median dose of radiotherapy given was estimated at 50 Gy (mean 49; 20 to 66). There was no correlation between radiation dose and the time to development of a sarcoma. The pelvis was the most commonly affected site (14 patients (33%)). Breast cancer was the most common primary tumour (eight patients; 19%). Metastases were present at diagnosis of the sarcoma in nine patients (21.4%). Osteosarcoma was the most common diagnosis and occurred in 30 cases (71.4%). Treatment was by surgery and chemotherapy when indicated: 30 patients (71.4%) were treated with the intention to cure. The survival rate was 41% at five years for those treated with the intention to cure but in those treated palliatively the mean survival was only 8.8 months (2 to 22), and all had died by two years. The only factor found to be significant for survival was the ability to completely resect the tumour. Limb sarcomas had a better prognosis (66% survival at five years) than central ones (12% survival at five years) (p = 0.009).

Radiation-induced sarcoma is a rare complication of radiotherapy. Both surgical and oncological treatment is likely to be compromised by the treatment received previously by the patient.

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D. H. Nawabi M. Sinisi

Schwannomas are the most common tumours of the sheath of peripheral nerves. The clinical diagnosis is usually straightforward, but may be delayed for many years in a schwannoma of the posterior tibial nerve. The symptoms are often attributed to entrapment neuropathy or to lumbosacral radiculopathy.

We describe 25 patients with a schwannoma of the posterior tibial nerve. Only three were diagnosed within a year of presentation. The mean time to diagnosis was 86.5 months with a median of 48 months (2 to 360). All the patients complained of pain, which was felt specifically in the sole of the foot in 18. A Tinel sign was detected in all 25 patients. MRI confirmed the diagnosis in all the cases in which it had been undertaken. Surgical resection of the lesion abolished the neuropathic pain. In patients with a long history of neuropathic pain in the lower limb in whom lumbar and pelvic lesions have been excluded, a benign tumour of the sheath of a peripheral nerve may explain the symptoms. Surgical resection of the tumour is safe and effective.

General Orthopaedics
Tuberculosis of the sternum Pages 817 - 820
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S. A. Khan M. K. Varshney A. S. Hasan A. Kumar V. Trikha

A series of 14 patients suffering from tuberculosis of the sternum with a mean follow-up of 2.8 years (2 to 3.6) is presented. All were treated with antitubercular therapy: ten with primary therapy, two needed second-line therapy, and two required surgery (debridement). All showed complete healing and no evidence of recurrence at the last follow-up. MRI was useful in making the diagnosis at an early stage because atypical presentations resulting from HIV have become more common. Early adequate treatment with multidrug antitubercular therapy avoided the need for surgery in 12 of our 14 patients.

B. K. Ogawa R. M. Kay P. D. Choi M. V. Stevanovic

The management of closed fractures of the humerus with an associated nerve palsy remains controversial. With very little written about this injury in children, we present the case of a three-year-old child with a closed humeral shaft fracture in whom surgical exploration and reconstruction of the radial nerve with a sural nerve graft was performed three months after injury. The child regained full function. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first such case to be reported in the English literature.

A. Ivkovic I. Boric N. Cicak

A man of 52 years of age had a grand mal seizure. He presented to our unit three months later with irreducible bilateral posterior dislocation of the shoulder. CT scans revealed large compression defects on the anteromedial aspect of the heads of both humeri. The defect on the right side was of more than 50% of the articular surface, and on the left side of 40%. He was treated by a one-stage operation with a hemiarthroplasty on one side and reconstruction of the head by an osteochondral autograft on the other. Three years later the clinical and radiological results were excellent.

Y. Hara N. Ochiai I. Abe H. Ichimura Saijilafu Y. Nishiura

We investigated the effect of progesterone on the nerve during lengthening of the limb in rats. The sciatic nerves of rats were elongated by leg lengthening for ten days at 3 mm per day. On alternate days between the day after the operation and nerve dissection, the progesterone-treated group received subcutaneous injections of 1 mg progesterone in sesame oil and the control group received oil only. On the fifth, tenth and 17th day, the sciatic nerves were excised at the midpoint of the femur and the mRNA expression level of myelin protein P0 was analysed by quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction. On day 52 nodal length was examined by electron microscopy, followed by an examination of the compound muscle action potential (C-MAP) amplitude and the motor conduction velocity (MCV) of the tibial nerve on days 17 and 52. The P0 (a major myelin glycoprotein) mRNA expression level in the progesterone-treated group increased by 46.6% and 38.7% on days five and ten, respectively. On day 52, the nodal length in the progesterone-treated group was smaller than that in the control group, and the MCV of the progesterone-treated group had been restored to normal.

Progesterone might accelerate the restoration of demyelination caused by nerve elongation by activating myelin synthesis.

W. Grechenig H. Clement W. Pichler N. P. Tesch G. Windisch

We have investigated the anatomy of the proximal part of the ulna to assess its influence on the use of plates in the management of fractures at this site. We examined 54 specimens from cadavers. The mean varus angulation in the proximal third was 17.5° (11° to 23°) and the mean anterior deviation 4.5° (1° to 14°). These variations must be considered when applying plates to the dorsal surface of the ulna for Monteggia-type fractures. A pre-operative radiograph of the contralateral elbow may also be of value.

W. K. Barsoum R. W. Patterson C. Higuera A. K. Klika V. E. Krebs R. Molloy

Dislocation remains a major concern after total hip replacement, and is often attributed to malposition of the components. The optimum position for placement of the components remains uncertain. We have attempted to identify a relatively safe zone in which movement of the hip will occur without impingement, even if one component is positioned incorrectly. A three-dimensional computer model was designed to simulate impingement and used to examine 125 combinations of positioning of the components in order to allow maximum movement without impingement. Increase in acetabular and/or femoral anteversion allowed greater internal rotation before impingement occurred, but decreases the amount of external rotation. A decrease in abduction of the acetabular components increased internal rotation while decreasing external rotation. Although some correction for malposition was allowable on the opposite side of the joint, extreme degrees could not be corrected because of bony impingement.

We introduce the concept of combined component position, in which anteversion and abduction of the acetabular component, along with femoral anteversion, are all defined as critical elements for stability.

Author’s reply Pages 846 - 847
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