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Caring Medical &
Rehabilitation Services

Chicagoland office
715 Lake Street, Suite 600
Oak Park, IL 60301
708.393.8266 Phone

Southwest Florida office
9738 Commerce
Center Court
Fort Myers, FL 33908
239.303.4069 Phone

855.779.1950 Fax

Knee replacement failure


Ross Hauser, MD

Ross Hauser, MD talks about concerns over knee replacement complications.

Recently doctors tried to come up with a formula that would better allow them to predict who would have knee replacement and subsequent revision knee replacement surgery failure.

Who was most at risk?

        • Patients who had tibial tuberosity osteotomy (bone realignment surgery)
        • Patients with kidney faliure
        • Patients with rheumatic diseases
        • Patients who had Posterior-stabilized constrained total knee arthroplasty for complex primary cases
        • Patients who had to have the revision surgery within 5 years of the first surgery
        • Patients with septic loosening.1

One Third of Knee Replacements Inappropriate

Over the years we have reported that we have seen many patients following knee replacement surgery who still had pain. After an examination we could clearly see that some of the patients did not need the surgery and that their doctors may have had an over zealousness to get them onto the operating table. That has been our opinion for years and many times we would get the casual email saying that we were off base to offer such an opinion.

On June 30, 2014, a press release was issued from the medical journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, in it doctors say that their research suggests that more than one third of total knee replacements in the U.S. were “inappropriate.” Using a patient classification system developed and validated in Spain the study highlights the need for consensus on patient selection criteria among U.S. medical professionals treating those with the potential need of knee replacement surgery.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports:

  • more than 600,000 knee replacements are performed in the U.S. each year.
  • In the past 15 years, the use of total knee arthroplasty has grown significantly
  • Some experts believe the growth is due to use of an effective procedure, while others contend there is over-use of the surgery that relies on subjective criteria.

The present study led by Dr. Daniel Riddle from the Department of Physical Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, examined the criteria used to determine the appropriateness of total knee arthroplasties. “To my knowledge, ours is the first U.S. study to compare validated appropriateness criteria with actual cases of knee replacement surgery,” said Dr. Riddle.

“Our finding that one third of knee replacements were inappropriate was higher than expected and linked to variation in knee pain osteoarthritis severity and functional loss. These data highlight the need to develop patient selection criteria in the U.S.,” concludes Dr. Riddle.

In a related editorial, Dr. Jeffery Katz from the Orthopedic and Arthritis Center for Outcomes Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., writes, “I agree with Riddle and colleagues, and with Escobar and colleagues, that we should be concerned about offering total knee replacements to subjects who endorse “none” or “mild” on all items of the pain and function scales.”

For women and older patients, the chances of a successful knee replacement are lower

In a study out of London, researchers sought to uncover various predictors of a successful (or unsuccessful) outcome in a total knee replacement2. Looking at 1,991 total knee replacement patients over a three-year period, they discovered various predictors of poor outcomes. Among the findings were that females and older people had worse functional outcomes following the replacement surgery. While women should take this information into account, any Prolotherapist would argue that all knee osteoarthritis patients should seek a second opinion from a Prolotherapist to see if they can avoid surgery and its potential adverse outcomes.

At Caring Medical and Rehabilitation Services, (CMRS), we specialize in pain cures, not pain management. As such we always research, write our own research, and explore new methodologies to curing Knee Pain. Coming up on our twentieth year in practice, we can still safely say that surgery for many defects of the knee is not the first option we would choose. Why? Because we have found and shown in research that Prolotherapy is effective for curing knee pain.2

Knee replacement given to patients with low back and hip pain

Recently we wrote  about a study that said knee replacement given to patients with low back and hip pain. That sounds inapproprite, does it not? In that study, investigators advised doctors that they must recognize hip disease before giving a recommendation for back and knee surgery because doctors may be performing the wrong procedures. Writing in the medical journal Modern Rheumatology, they say: “We suggest that rheumatologists be aware of hip disease masquerading as knee pain or low back pain.”3

They noted various ways hip pain distributes itself:

Distribution of pain originating in the hip was:

  • 89 % to the groin
  • 38 % to the buttock
  • 33 % to the anterior thigh
  • 29 % to the knee
  • 27 % to the greater trochanter
  • 17 % to the low back
  • 8 % to the lower leg

In the case of chronic joint pain, a thorough examination is imperative in identifying the correct diagnosis. That sounds like common sense, but the sad truth is that the source of pain is often missed. Let’s take a look at some recent research.

Positive outcomes and knee surgery success rates

“Arthroscopic joint debridement is a potential and sufficient treatment for knee osteoarthritis in a middle-term time interval. This procedure results in an excellent or good outcome in approximately 60 % of patients in approximately 5 years.”Joint debridement is a sort of “power-washing” of the joint to wash away loose tissue and other loose bodies in the joint. Sixty percent patient satisfaction is good. Unless you are in the other 40%.5

Bone surgery for the knee
As the knee degenerates, it changes in shape. A popular treatment involves restoring the shape by bone surgery to alleviate pressure and pain. Osteotomy is a surgery that the researchers say, “should always be performed if possible.” When a surgeon recommends an osteotomy for the knee the goal is that they can change the shape or slope or angle of the bone to realign the knee to relieve pressure on the pain causing part of the knee by distributing your weight to a sturdier part of your knee. The hope of course is to extend the life of your real knee and delay knee replacement surgery. Surgery to avoid surgery!

Concerns are:
1) You are removing anatomy, as we like to say, if you didn’t need it, it wouldn’t be there in the first place.
2) Extended recovery time and immobility.
3) If the Osteotomy does not work, a knee replacement is next and unfortunately, total knee replacement is a much more complicated surgery with some bone missing or altered. This complication is why knee replacement is usually called for from the start.

So why always perform this surgery if possible? Because there is a chance by altering the knee that knee cartilage can regenerate! In fact it has been reported in 60% of cases following high tibial osteotomy that there has been some degree of cartilage regeneration.  (See cartilage repair).

 One study identifies 22 different risks associated with total knee arthroplasty

Here is what the authors had to say:

“The 22 TKA complications and adverse events include:

  • bleeding,
  • wound complication,
  • thromboembolic disease,
  • neural deficit,
  • vascular injury,
  • medial collateral ligament injury,
  • instability,
  • malalignment,
  • stiffness,
  • deep joint infection,
  • fracture,
  • extensor mechanism disruption,
  • patellofemoral dislocation,
  • tibiofemoral dislocation,
  • bearing surface wear,
  • osteolysis,
  • implant loosening,
  • implant fracture/tibial insert dissociation,
  • reoperation,
  • revision,
  • readmission,
  • and death.”6

Another surgical complication involves difficulty in performing secondary surgery. In another study, researchers looked at patients who had a prior procedures including bone procedures, high tibial osteotomy, tibial plateau fracture, patellar realignment, and arthroscopy. They discovered that prior knee surgery could be considered a clinical condition that predisposes a patient to postoperative complications with a total knee replacement. After analyzing three groups of patients they found that patients who underwent arthroscopy and meniscectomy had a higher rate of postoperative local complications than patients with no prior surgery or procedures. Further, they found that patients with prior bone procedures showed the poorest postoperative abilities in knee flexion and showed the greatest need for extended surgical approach.7

Prolotherapy to the knee

Prolotherapy for knee pain

Comprehensive Prolotherapy injections, whether dextrose, Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy,  Stem Cell Injection Therapy  for Knee Osteoarthritis, or other growth factors is a less complicated, less risky, and less invasive procedure. As we have reported in previous articles, we have documented articular cartilage regeneration in the Journal of Prolotherapy. Here is our summation:

“Prolotherapy improved the pain and function in five knees with osteoarthritis. All five degenerated knees showed evidence of articular cartilage regeneration in their standard weight-bearing X-rays after Prolotherapy. It is suggested that before and after X-ray studies can be used to document the response of degenerated joints to Prolotherapy.”

Prolotherapy is the only treatment found to stimulate cartilage repair and regeneration, as is shown by the X-rays. Furthermore, Prolotherapy offers the most curative results in treating chronic pain. It effectively eliminates pain because it attacks the source: the fibro-osseous junction, an area rich in sensory nerves. What’s more, the tissue strengthening and pain relief stimulated by Prolotherapy is permanent!

 1. Luque R, Rizo B, Urda A, Garcia-Crespo R, Moro E, Marco F, López-Duran L. Predictive factors for failure after total knee replacement revision. Int Orthop. 2014 Jan 9.
2. Judge A, Arden NK, Cooper C, Kassim Javaid M, Carr AJ, Field RE, Dieppe PA. Predictors of outcomes of total knee replacement surgery.Int Orthop. 2014 Feb;38(2):429-35. doi: 10.1007/s00264-013-2268-8. Epub 2014 Jan 9.
3.  Nakamura J, Oinuma K, Ohtori S, et al. Distribution of hip pain in osteoarthritis patients secondary to developmental dysplasia of the hip. Mod Rheumatol. 2012 Apr 11. [Epub ahead of print]
4. Spahn G, Hofmann GO, Klinger HM. The effects of arthroscopic joint debridement in the knee osteoarthritis: results of a meta-analysis. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2012 Aug 15.
5. Spahn G, Klinger HM, Harth P, Hofmann GO. [Cartilage regeneration after high tibial osteotomy. Results of an arthroscopic study]. Z Orthop Unfall. 2012 Jun;150(3):272-9. Epub 2012 Jun 22.
6. Healy WL, Della Valle CJ, Iorio R, Berend KR, Cushner FD, Dalury DF, Lonner JH. Complications of Total Knee Arthroplasty: Standardized List and Definitions of The Knee Society. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2012 Jul 19. [Epub ahead of print]
7. Piedade SR, Pinaroli A, Servien E, Neyret P.KA outcomes after prior bone and soft tissue knee surgery. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2012 Jul 25.

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