The variability of surgical practice during total knee arthroplasty: results of a national survey amongst Belgian knee surgeonsMufty, S., Brabants, K., Almqvist, F. et al.
Implant registries have been effective in detecting poorly performing implants and surgical strategies. They learn us however little about many variables that may be equally important to the final result. Today, no standards of care exist for performing total knee arthroplasties (TKA), and little is known about the variability that exists amongst surgeons performing this procedure.
A questionnaire with 39 aspects regarding standard surgical routine during TKA was sent to all 112 members of the Belgian Knee Society. Surgeons were stratified according to surgical experience and surgical volume.
An important number of routines were performed as standard by the majority (>70%) of surgeons. Surgeons however significantly differed in the following aspects of the procedure: radiographic evaluation, use of minimally invasive surgery (MIS), preferred landmark for femoral component rotation, method of closure and activities allowed postoperatively. Both surgical experience and surgical volume had a significant effect, but their influence on strategies was different. Less-experienced surgeons used the posterior condylar line as their reference for femoral component rotation significantly more frequent than more-experienced surgeons and were more aggressive towards postoperative sports activities compared to more-experienced surgeons. High-volume surgeons used significantly more frequent MIS and low-volume surgeons preferred a more extensive postoperative radiographic evaluation.
Data of this study show that an important number of routines are performed similarly by the majority of surgeons, and that minor but significant differences exist between high-volume versus low-volume surgeons, and between experienced versus less-experienced surgeons.
Level of evidence
Case series, Level IV.