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Knee joint distraction (KJD) is a new application of an established technique to regenerate native cartilage using an external fixator. The purpose of this study is to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature to determine whether KJD is beneficial for knee osteoarthritis and how results compare with established treatments. Studies assessing the outcomes of KJD were retrieved, with three studies (one cohort and two randomized controlled trials), 62 knees, meeting the inclusion criteria. The primary outcome was functional outcome, assessed using a validated outcome score, at 1 year. Secondary outcomes included pain scores, structural assessment of the joint, and adverse events. KJD is associated with improvements in Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) from baseline to 1 year as well as reductions in pain scores and improvements in structural parameters assessed radiographically and by magnetic resonance imaging. KJD is not associated with decreased knee flexion, but is associated with a high risk of pin site infection. In patients aged 65 years or under at 1 year, no differences in WOMAC or pain scores was detected between patients managed with KJD compared with high tibial osteotomy or total knee arthroplasty. KJD may represent a potential treatment for knee arthritis, though further trials with longer term follow-up are required to establish its efficacy compared with contemporary treatments. This is a Level I (systematic review and meta-analysis) study.

Original publication




Journal article


J knee surg

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