The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 10 , 3263 - 3267

Treatment of Periprosthetic Knee Infection With Concurrent Rotational Muscle Flap Coverage Is Associated With High Failure Rates

Warren, Shay I. et al.


Soft-tissue deficiency is a potentially devastating complication of the infected total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Rotational muscle flaps are commonly used to address these defects. However, reported success rates vary widely.


We reviewed 26 consecutive patients who underwent rotational muscle flap surgery for full-thickness anterior soft-tissue defect during treatment of an infected TKA. Twenty-four cases used a medial gastrocnemius rotational flap, 1 used a lateral gastrocnemius flap, and 1 used a rectus femoris-vastus intermedius flap. Implant survival, recurrence of infection, and limb survival were reported. Patient and procedural characteristics were tested for association with failure using χ2 and Student t-test. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to estimate the failure-free survival function.


Mean follow-up time was 3.3 years. Eighteen of 26 patients (69.2%) experienced recurrent infection requiring an average of 5.3 additional operations (range, 1-20). Five (19.2%) required arthrodesis while 6 (23.1%) eventually underwent above-the-knee amputation. Two patients (7.7%) died due to complications of revision surgery or persistent infection. Eleven patients (42.3%) were infection free with a retained prosthesis after treatment at a mean follow-up of 5.3 years (range, 0.7-18.0 years).


Rotational muscle flap coverage of soft-tissue defects in the setting of the infected TKA remains a viable salvage option. However, despite adequate tissue coverage, many patients experience recurrent infection requiring additional surgical treatment. Patients and surgeons should be aware of the potential high failure rates observed when treating these complex problems.

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