Expanded Indications for Medial UKA?

Along with recently renewed interest in unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) has come debate as to whether the preoperative presence of patellofemoral osteoarthritis (OA) and/or abnormal patellofemoral alignment should be considered UKA contraindications. Findings from a retrospective review of 639 knees by Burger et al. in the September 18, 2019 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery strongly suggest that the answer is “no.”

After examining preoperative radiographic OA and alignment characteristics and postoperative patient-reported outcomes among patients who underwent fixed-bearing medial UKA, the authors concluded that “neither the [radiographic] presence of preoperative mild to moderate [patellofemoral] osteoarthritis nor abnormal patellar tilt or congruence compromised [patient-reported knee and patellofemoral-specific] outcomes at intermediate-term follow-up [mean of 4.3 ±1.6 years].”

Expanding the surgical inclusion criteria for UKA based on these findings could increase the number of patients eligible for UKA by 20% to 40%, estimated Burger et al. In the practice of the senior author (Andrew D. Pearle, MD), patients with symptoms of patellofemoral OA (such as anterior knee pain with prolonged sitting or stair-climbing) are considered ineligible for UKA, prompting the authors to suggest that “the presence of such symptoms may be better than radiographic criteria for determining which patients are eligible for medial [UKA].”

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