Bone Joint J. 2020;102-B(1):132–136

The fate of Baker’s cysts at mid-term follow-up after total knee arthroplasty

Hagen Hommel, Roland Becker, Peter Fennema, Sebastian Kopf


We report the natural course of Baker’s cysts following total knee arthroplasty (TKA) at short- and mid-term follow-up.


In this prospective case series, 105 TKA patients were included. All patients who received surgery had a diagnosis of primary osteoarthritis and had preoperatively presented with a Baker’s cyst. Sonography and MRI were performed to evaluate the existence and the gross size of the cyst before TKA, and sonography was repeated at a mean follow-up time of 1.0 years (0.8 to 1.3; short-term) and 4.9 years (4.0 to 5.6; mid-term) after TKA. Symptoms potentially attributable to the Baker’s cyst were recorded at each assessment.


At the one-year follow-up analysis, 102 patients were available. Of those, 91 patients were available for the 4.9-year assessment (with an 86.7% follow-up rate (91/105)). At the short- and mid-term follow-up, a Baker’s cyst was still present in 87 (85.3%) and 30 (33.0%) patients, respectively. Of those patients who retained a Baker’s cyst at the short-term follow-up, 31 patients (35.6%) had popliteal symptoms. Of those patients who continued to have a Baker’s cyst at the mid-term follow-up, 17 patients (56.7%) were still symptomatic. The mean preoperative cyst size was 14.5 cm2 (13.1 to 15.8). At the short- and mid-term follow-up, the mean cyst size was 9.7 cm2 (8.3 to 11.0) and 10.4 cm2 (9.8 to 11.4), respectively. A significant association was found between the size of the cyst at peroperatively and the probability of resolution, with lesions smaller than the median having an 83.7% (36/43) probability of resolution, and larger lesions having a 52.1% (25/48) probability of resolution (p < 0.001). At the mid-term follow-up, no association between cyst size and popliteal symptoms was found.


At a mean follow-up of 4.9 years (4.0 to 5.6) after TKA, the majority (67.0%, 61/91) of the Baker’s cysts that were present preoperatively had disappeared. The probability of cyst resolution was dependent on the size of the Baker’s cyst at baseline, with an 83.7% (36/43) probability of resolution for smaller cysts and 52.1% (25/48) probability for larger cysts.

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