The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 34, Issue 6, 1279 - 1286

Treatment of Extensor Tendon Disruption After Total Knee Arthroplasty: A Systematic Review

Vajapey, Sravya P. et al.


Patellar or quadriceps tendon ruptures after total knee arthroplasty constitute a devastating complication with historically poor outcomes. With advances in soft tissue reconstruction and repair techniques, treatment has become more nuanced. Numerous graft options for reconstruction and suture techniques for repair have been described but there is no consensus regarding optimal treatment.


A search of PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, and Scopus was conducted. Articles meeting inclusion criteria were reviewed. Type of intervention performed, type of injury studied, outcome measures, and complications were recorded. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were performed.


Twenty-eight articles met inclusion criteria. The complication rate after repair of patellar tendon (63.16%) was higher than the complication rate after repair of quadriceps tendon (25.37%). However, the complication rate for patellar and quadriceps tendon tears after autograft, allograft, or mesh reconstruction was similar (18.8% vs 19.2%, respectively). The most common complication after extensor mechanism repair or reconstruction was extension lag of 30° or greater (45.33%). This was followed by re-rupture and infection (25.33% and 22.67%, respectively). Early ruptures had a higher overall complication rate than late injuries.


Extensor mechanism disruption after total knee arthroplasty is a complication with high morbidity. Reconstruction of patellar tendon rupture has a much lower complication rate than repair. Our findings support the recommendation of patellar tendon reconstruction in both the early and late presentation stages. Quadriceps rupture can be treated with repair in early ruptures or with reconstruction in the late rupture or in the case of revision surgery.

Download article