Trabecular bone density of the proximal tibia as it relates to failure of a total knee replacement.
Ritter MA., Davis KE., Small SR., Merchun JG., Farris A.
The relationship between post-operative bone density and subsequent failure of total knee replacement (TKR) is not known. This retrospective study aimed to determine the relationship between bone density and failure, both overall and according to failure mechanism. All 54 aseptic failures occurring in 50 patients from 7760 consecutive primary cemented TKRs between 1983 and 2004 were matched with non-failing TKRs, and 47 failures in 44 patients involved tibial failures with the matching characteristics of age (65.1 for failed and 69.8 for non-failed), gender (70.2% female), diagnosis (93.6% OA), date of operation, bilaterality, pre-operative alignment (0.4 and 0.3 respectively), and body mass index (30.2 and 30.0 respectively). In each case, the density of bone beneath the tibial component was assessed at each follow-up interval using standardised, calibrated radiographs. Failing knees were compared with controls both overall and, as a subgroup analysis, by failure mechanism. Knees were compared with controls using univariable linear regression. Significant and continuous elevation in tibial density was found in knees that eventually failed by medial collapse (p < 0.001) and progressive radiolucency (p < 0.001) compared with controls, particularly in the medial region of the tibia. Knees failing due to ligamentous instability demonstrated an initial decline in density (p = 0.0152) followed by a non-decreasing density over time (p = 0.034 for equivalence). Non-failing knees reported a decline in density similar to that reported previously using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Differences between failing and non-failing knees were observable as early as two months following surgery. This tool may be used to identify patients at risk of failure following TKR, but more validation work is needed.