Intra-operative fractures in primary total knee arthroplasty - a systematic review

Prabhudev Prasad Purudappa, Sruthi Priyavadhana Ramanan, Sujit Kumar Tripathy, Sushrruti Varatharaj, Varatharaj Mounasamy, Senthil Nathan Sambandam

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: One of the rare complications of primary total knee arthroplasty is intra-operative fracture. Intra-operative fracture during revision knee arthroplasty has been well-documented but there is limited literature on fractures occurring during primary knee arthroplasty. We conducted a systematic review of the literature to compare and contrast the various studies to clearly define the predisposing factors, incidence, and characteristics of the fracture itself and to arrive at a consensus on the management and prevention of intra-operative fractures during primary knee arthroplasty. Methods: The PubMed/Medline, Cochrane, Scopus and Embase databases were searched using keywords “intra-operative fracture”, “distal femoral fracture”, “tibial fracture”, “patella fracture” and “primary total knee arthroplasty”. A total of 158 articles were retrieved and after further filtration and exclusion processing, 10 articles that evaluated intra-operative fractures in primary total knee arthroplasty were included for the review. Results: The reported incidence of intra-operative fractures varied from 0.2% to 4.4%. A higher incidence in female patients with a male to female ratio of 0.4 was reported. Posterior stabilized (PS) total knee arthroplasty was associated with higher risk of intra-operative femoral fractures by many authors in this review. Timing of occurrence and location of the intra-operative fractures can vary widely, with femoral fractures occurring more commonly during bone preparation, trialing and impaction of the final implant and tibial fractures occurring during preparation for the tibial keel and impaction of the tibial component. Conclusions: Intra-operative fractures during primary total knee arthroplasty are rare with higher risk associated with osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, advanced age, female gender, chronic steroid use, metabolic bone disorders, PS type of femoral implant and difficult surgical exposure of the knee joint due to severe deformities. A plethora of management options have been utilized according to surgeon preference. Standard principles of fracture fixation and arthroplasty principles should be followed to achieve stable internal fixation and any unstable fracture site should be bypassed with the utilization of stemmed components. Satisfactory radiographic and functional outcome can be expected with appropriate treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number40
JournalKnee Surgery and Related Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Distal femoral fracture
  • Intra-operative fracture
  • Patella fracture
  • Primary total knee arthroplasty
  • Tibial fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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