The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 32, Issue 6, 1803 - 1807

Patellar Cut and Composite Thickness: The Influence on Postoperative Motion and Complications in Total Knee Arthroplasty

Hamilton, William G. et al.


Little data exist on the influence of patellar thickness on postoperative motion or complications after total knee arthroplasty (TKA). This study addresses the following questions: Is postoperative motion influenced by change in composite patellar thickness? Is change in patellar thickness associated with more complications? And do more complications occur in the knees with a patellar bone remnant (<12 mm) and a native patellar thickness <18 mm?


In total, 3655 TKAs were performed by 3 surgeons over a 28-year interval. All knees had caliper measurement of patellar thickness before the patellar cut, after implantation of the component and postoperative motion recorded in the database 1 or 2 years after TKA.


Patellar composite thickness was the same (1034 knees), thicker (1617 knees), and thinner (1004 knees). A significant but weak relationship was identified between the change in patellar thickness and motion (P < .01, ρ = −0.046); an increase in “composite patellar thickness” of 10 mm would result in a 3° loss of knee motion. Significant differences were identified between change in thickness and manipulations (P < .05), ruptures (P = .01), and patellar clunk/crepitus (P < .01). Examining knees with bone remnant thicknesses (<12 mm/≥12 mm), there was no difference in fractures (P = .26). No extensor ruptures occurred in knees with remnant thickness <12 mm. Comparing knees with native bone thickness (≤18 mm/>18 mm), significant differences were found in fractures (P < .01) and patellar radiolucencies (P = .01).


As this data does not demonstrate a strong tendency toward losing motion when the patellar thickness is increased, the authors recommend avoiding compromise of the patellar bone stock and tendon insertion. When native patellar bone is thin (<18 mm), we recommend maintaining 12 mm of patellar bone stock and accept the increase in composite thickness.

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