The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 7 , 2251 - 2255

The Radiographic Prepatellar Fat Thickness Ratio Correlates With Infection Risk After Total Knee Arthroplasty

Wagner, Russell A. et al.


Obesity has been associated with complications after a total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Surgical site infection (SSI) after TKA is one of the feared complications as it increases revision rates, costs, and stress to the patient. There is conflicting evidence in the literature regarding body mass index (BMI) and risk of infection after TKA, and some studies have suggested that site-specific fat distribution may be a better metric for determining risk of postoperative infections. Here, we investigate the correlation of soft tissue distribution about the knee to SSI after TKA.


We retrospectively review 572 patients who underwent primary TKA at a single institution from 2006 to 2010. We introduce the prepatellar fat thickness ratio (PFTR) as a radiographic means to quantitatively assess fat distribution about the knee and evaluate this measurement’s ability to assess the risk of developing an SSI after TKA.


The PFTR was shown to be a better predictor of SSI than BMI in both the univariate (P = .05) and multivariate (P = .01) analyses.


Although BMI cannot fully account for variations in adipose distribution, the PFTR may account for this variability and may be a helpful tool for assessing a patient’s preoperative risk of SSI after TKA.

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