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Aspirin Noninferior to Rivaroxaban for Anticoagulation after Joint Replacement

Aspirin for OBuzzOrthoBuzz occasionally receives posts from guest bloggers. This guest post comes from Amir Khoshbin, MD in response to a recent randomized trial in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The ideal anticoagulation protocol for patients who have received a total knee or hip replacement remains controversial. Results from the recently published “Extended Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis Comparing Rivaroxaban to Aspirin Following Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty (EPCAT) II” trial add some clarity to this topic.

This large double-blind, randomized noninferiority trial compared two outpatient anticoagulation regimens after elective unilateral primary or revision hip or knee arthroplasty. Almost 3,500 patients were enrolled, and they all received 10 mg of rivaroxaban daily until postoperative day five. After that, 1,707 patients were randomized to receive 81 mg of aspirin daily, while the remaining 1,717 patients received 10 mg of rivaroxaban daily. Per previous recommendations, total knee arthroplasty patients received anticoagulation for a total of 14 days, and total hip arthroplasty patients continued anticoagulation for 30 days.

Twelve patients in the rivaroxaban group (0.7%) had a venous thromboembolism event in the 90-day postsurgical period, versus 11 patients (0.64%) in the aspirin group (p >0.05). In terms of complications from anticoagulation treatment, 5 patients (0.29%) in the rivaroxaban group and 8 patients in the aspirin group (0.47%) had a major bleeding event (p >0.05).  It is worth noting that there were multiple different implants, approaches, and perioperative protocols followed in the study. Also, very few patients with a history of venous thromboembolism (81 patients, 2.4%), cancer (80 patients, 2.3%) or smoking (319 patients, 9.3%) were included in the study. These patients would be considered at higher risk for venous thromboembolism after joint replacement.

These limitations notwithstanding, the results from prophylaxis with aspirin after an initial five days of rivaroxaban were not significantly different from results with continued rivaroxaban. Institutional prices vary, but in this time of bundled care, the financial implications of studies like this one could be great. Anecdotally, in our institution the price of rivaroxaban is 140 times that of aspirin.

This is not the first study whose findings support the use of aspirin for venous thromboembolism prophylaxis, but it is one of the largest. It appears that such findings are starting to change the practice of some orthopaedic surgeons. We expect that additional large studies will provide further insight into this question.

Amir Khoshbin, MD is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at the University of Toronto and a member of the JBJS Social Media Advisory Board. He can be reached at

Joint Laxity Is a Risk Factor for Poor Outcomes After ACL Reconstruction

The purposes of this investigation were to compare outcomes of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction between patients with generalized joint laxity and those without it and to investigate the effect of generalized joint laxity on outcomes of ACL reconstruction from 2 to 8 years postoperatively. #JBJSVideoSummaries #JBJSmedia

Full article:

Spinal Cord Compression/Joint Laxity & ACL

Spinal cord injury in the cervical spine is commonly accompanied by cord compression and urgent surgical decompression may improve neurological recovery. #JBJSInfographics #JBJSJBJS.IG.16.00995.ig

Is there a difference in outcomes of ACL reconstruction between patients with generalized joint laxity and those without it? What are the effect of generalized joint laxity on outcomes of ACL reconstruction from 2 to 8 years postoperatively? #JBJS #JBJSInfographics

Joint Laxity InfoGraphic for OBuzz

Generalized Joint Laxity—A Risk Factor for Poor Outcomes After ACL Reconstruction

Joint Laxity InfoGraphic for OBuzzSometimes, being too flexible is not a good thing. In the February 21, 2018 edition of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Kim et al. show that patients with generalized joint laxity—those who can hyperextend their knees and elbows beyond 10°, for example—tend to have poorer knee-stability and functional outcomes after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction than those who have normal joint flexibility.

The authors studied 8-year outcomes among 163 patients who underwent a unilateral ACL reconstruction. In all cases, the same surgeon performed the same procedure (bone-patellar tendon-bone autograft), and all patients went through the same rehab program.

In terms of graft-rupture rates and contralateral ACL rupture rates over the study period, the authors found no statistically significant differences between the 122 patients without laxity and the 41 patients who were determined preoperatively to have generalized joint laxity. However, at the 8-year follow-up, the patients with laxity had less knee stability (as measured with Lachman and pivot-shift tests and an arthrometer) and worse knee function (as measured with the Lysholm and IKDC scales) than patients without laxity.

Taken together, these findings lead Kim et al. to conclude that “generalized joint laxity should be considered a risk factor for poor outcomes after ACL reconstruction.” We also noted that JBJS Deputy Editor Robert Marx, MD (@drrmarx) remarked on Twitter that “adding lateral ITB [iliotibial band] tenodesis may be helpful for more severe cases with significant knee hyperextension.”

Click here for a two-minute video summary of this study.

What’s New in Adult Reconstructive Knee Surgery 2018, Part II

Knee_smPreviously this month, Chad A. Krueger, MD, JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media, selected what he deemed to be the most clinically compelling findings from among the more than 150 studies cited in the January 17, 2018 Specialty Update on Adult Reconstructive Knee Surgery. In this OrthoBuzz post, Gwo-Chin Lee, MD, author of the Specialty Update on Adult Reconstructive Knee Surgery, selects his “top five.”

Nonoperative Knee OA Treatment
—Atukorala et al. found a significant dose-response relationship between all KOOS subscales and percentage of weight change across all weight-change categories. Participants required ≥7.7% of weight loss to achieve a minimal clinically important improvement in function.1

Meniscal Injuries
—A prospective cohort study showed that patients undergoing arthroscopic procedures for degenerative meniscal tears did not have clinically meaningful differences in outcomes compared with patients with traumatic meniscal tears.2

Postoperative Pain Management
—Authors of a Cochrane Systematic Review ascertained that liposomal bupivacaine at the surgical site appears to reduce postoperative pain compared with placebo. However, because of the low quality and volume of evidence, it is not possible to determine its effect compared with conventional agents.3

Avoiding Post-TKA Complications
—In a randomized trial, the use of a tourniquet resulted in upregulation of peptidase activity within the vastus medialis but did not result in an increase in muscular degradation products. The authors concluded that the relationship between tourniquet-induced ischemia and muscle atrophy is complex and poorly understood.4

—The authors of a registry study found no evidence that fondaparinux, enoxaparin, or warfarin are superior to aspirin in the prevention of PE, DVT, or VTE—or that aspirin is safer than these alternatives. However, enoxaparin is as safe as aspirin with respect to bleeding, and fondaparinux is as safe as aspirin with respect to risk of wound complications.5


  1. Atukorala I, Makovey J, Lawler L, Messier SP, Bennell K, Hunter DJ. Is there a dose-response relationship between weight loss and symptom improvement in persons with knee osteoarthritis? Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2016 Aug;68 (8):1106-14.
  2. Thorlund JB, Englund M, Christensen R, Nissen N, Pihl K, Jørgensen U, Schjerning J, Lohmander LS. Patient reported outcomes in patients undergoing arthroscopic partial meniscectomy for traumatic or degenerative meniscal tears: comparative prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2017 Feb 2;356:j356.
  3. Hamilton TW, Athanassoglou V, Mellon S, Strickland LH, Trivella M, Murray D, Pandit HG. Liposomal bupivacaine infiltration at the surgical site for the management of postoperative pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Feb 1;2:CD011419.
  4. Jawhar A, Hermanns S, Ponelies N, Obertacke U, Roehl H. Tourniquet-induced ischaemia during total knee arthroplasty results in higher proteolytic activities within vastus medialis cells: a randomized clinical trial. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2016 Oct;24(10):3313-21. Epub 2015 Nov 14.
  5. Cafri G, Paxton EW, Chen Y, Cheetham CT, Gould MK, Sluggett J, Bini SA, Khatod M. Comparative effectiveness and safety of drug prophylaxis for prevention of venous thromboembolism after total knee arthroplasty. J Arthroplasty. 2017 Nov;32(11):3524-28.e1. Epub 2017 May 31.

What’s New in Adult Reconstructive Knee Surgery 2018

Knee_smEvery month, JBJS publishes a Specialty Update—a review of the most pertinent and impactful studies published in the orthopaedic literature during the previous year in 13 subspecialties. Click here for a collection of all OrthoBuzz Specialty Update summaries.

This month, Chad A. Krueger, MD, JBJS Deputy Editor for Social Media, selected the most clinically compelling findings from among the more than 150 studies cited in the January 17, 2018 Specialty Update on Adult Reconstructive Knee Surgery.

Nonoperative Knee OA Treatment

—Intra-articular corticosteroid injections are commonly administered to mitigate pain and inflammation in knee osteoarthritis (OA). However, a randomized controlled trial of 140 patients found that 2 years of triamcinolone injections, when compared with saline injections, resulted in a significantly greater degree of cartilage loss without significant differences in symptoms.1

Non-Arthroplasty Operative Management

—Knee arthroscopy continues to be largely ineffective for pain relief and functional improvement in knee OA. A randomized controlled trial found no evidence that debridement of unstable chondral flaps found at the time of arthroscopic meniscectomy improves clinical outcomes.

Cartilage restoration procedures continue to show varying degrees of success. Long-term results from a randomized trial demonstrated no significant differences in joint survivorship and function between patients undergoing microfracture versus autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) at 15 years of follow-up. Nearly 50% of patients in both groups had radiographic evidence of early knee OA.

Periprosthetic Joint Infection

—Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) remains a leading cause of failure following total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Successful treatment requires accurate diagnosis, and alpha-defensin was found to be both sensitive and specific in the diagnosis of PJI. However, it was not significantly superior to leukocyte esterase (LE) in cases of obvious infection.

—Reported rates of reinfection after 2-stage reimplantation for treatment of a first PJI can be as high as 19%. A 3-month course of oral antibiotics following 2-stage procedures significantly improved infection-free survival without complications.2

Post-TKA Complications from Opioids

—Amid ongoing concerns about opioid misuse, two studies3 suggested that preoperative opioid use was found to be an independent predictor of increased length of stay, complications, readmissions, and less pain relief following TKA.


  1. McAlindon TE, LaValley MP, Harvey WF, Price LL, Driban JB, Zhang M,Ward RJ. Effect of intra-articular triamcinolone vs saline on knee cartilage volume and pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized clinical trial. 2017 May 16;317(19):1967-75.
  2. Frank JM, Kayupov E, Moric M, Segreti J, Hansen E, Hartman C, Okroj K,Belden K, Roslund B, Silibovsky R, Parvizi J, Della Valle CJ; Knee Society Research Group. The Mark Coventry, MD, Award: oral antibiotics reduce reinfection after two-stage exchange: a multicenter, randomized controlled trial. Clin Orthop Relat Res.2017 Jan;475(1):56-61.
  3. Rozell JC, Courtney PM, Dattilo JR, Wu CH, Lee GC. Preoperative opiate use independently predicts narcotic consumption and complications after total joint arthroplasty. J Arthroplasty.2017 Sep;32(9):2658-62. Epub 2017 Apr 12.

JBJS 100: Knee Instability and Scoliosis

JBJS 100Under one name or another, The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has published quality orthopaedic content spanning three centuries. In 1919, our publication was called the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the first volume of that journal constituted Volume 1 of what we know today as JBJS.

Thus, the 24 issues we turn out in 2018 will constitute our 100th volume. To help celebrate this milestone, throughout the year we will be spotlighting 100 of the most influential JBJS articles on OrthoBuzz, making the original content openly accessible for a limited time.

Unlike the scientific rigor of Journal content, the selection of this list was not entirely scientific. About half we picked from “JBJS Classics,” which were chosen previously by current and past JBJS Editors-in-Chief and Deputy Editors. We also selected JBJS articles that have been cited more than 1,000 times in other publications, according to Google Scholar search results. Finally, we considered “activity” on the Web of Science and The Journal’s websites.

We hope you enjoy and benefit from reading these groundbreaking articles from JBJS, as we mark our 100th volume. Here are two more:

Rotatory Instability of the Knee
Donald B. Slocum, Robert L. Larson: JBJS, 1968 Mar; 50 (2): 211
The authors demonstrated the importance of performing the anterior drawer test with the foot held in 15° of external rotation. The physical examination described in this article has since been complemented by numerous other tests.

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: A New Classification to Determine Extent of Spinal Arthrodesis
Lenke, Lawrence G. MD; Betz, Randal R. MD; Harms, Jürgen MD; Bridwell, Keith H. MD; Clements, David H. MD; Lowe, Thomas G. MD; Blanke, Kathy RN: JBJS, 2001 Aug;  83 (8): 1169
This new-at-the-time 2-dimensional classification system had three components: curve type, a lumbar spine modifier, and a sagittal thoracic modifier. It was much more reliable than previous systems in helping surgeons determine the vertebrae to be included in arthrodesis.

After TJA, Patients Living Alone Can Safely Be Discharged Home

elensreader.phpAs Fleischman et al. observe in the January 17, 2018 edition of The Journal, “there is a prevailing belief that patients living alone cannot be safely discharged directly home after total joint arthroplasty [TJA].” Not so, according to results of their Level II prospective cohort study.

The authors reviewed outcomes among a cohort of 769 patients undergoing lower-extremity arthroplasty who were discharged home, 138 of whom were living alone. While patients living alone more commonly stayed an additional night in the hospital and utilized more home-health services than patients living with others, there were no between-group differences in 90-day complication rates or unplanned clinical events, including readmissions.

These findings are reassuring, but all patients discharged home after a lower-limb arthroplasty need some support with meal preparation, personal hygiene, and other activities of daily living for the first 10 to 14 days. Clinicians should therefore adequately assess the local support system for each patient living alone in terms of family, neighbors, or friends to be sure the patient will be safe if discharged home. This crucial determination is a team exercise involving nursing, the surgeon, physical and occupational therapists, and a social worker. Fleischman et al. implicitly credit the “nurse navigator” program at their institution (Rothman Institute) with coordinating this team effort.

Investigation into these issues is very important as the orthopaedic community works to lower the costs of arthroplasty care while improving patient safety and satisfaction. If the appropriate support is in place, patients and clinicians alike would prefer that patients sleep in their own beds after discharge from joint replacement surgery.

Marc Swiontkowski, MD
JBJS Editor-in-Chief

Rapid Alpha Defensin Test Helpful for Diagnosing PJI

Synovasure for OBuzzQuick and accurate: that’s what orthopaedic surgeons want in diagnostic tools to help them determine whether patients presenting with pain after total joint arthroplasty have an infection. A prospective Level I study by Gehrke et al. in the January 3, 2018 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery determined that a new lateral flow version of the Synovasure Alpha Defensin Test meets those requirements.

Alpha defensin is a protein secreted by neutrophils in response to bacterial infection, prior to the development of specific immune responses. Earlier research established alpha defensin in synovial aspirates to be an excellent biomarker for periprosthetic joint infection (PJI). The original ELISA-based alpha defensin test is usually sent out for 24-hour processing, limiting its intraoperative utility. However, the lateral flow version of the test (akin to an over-the-counter pregnancy test) was approved for use in Europe—and its results are available in 10 to 15 minutes.

Gehrke et al. compared the rapid test’s results to the diagnostic criteria promulgated by the Musculoskeletal Infection Society (MSIS). According to MSIS criteria, there were 76 joints with PJI among 191 study subjects on whom 195 joint aspirations were performed. Using that as the benchmark for diagnosis, the authors analyzed results from the rapid alpha defensin tests and found the following performance:

  • 92.1% sensitivity
  • 100% specificity
  • 100% positive predictive value
  • 95.2% negative predictive value
  • 96.9% overall accuracy

Although the rapid test does not provide information about the identity of specific pathogens, the authors conclude that it “enables surgeons to start proper therapy without delay.” That ability comes at a price, however. In Germany, where this study was performed, each rapid test costs about 400 Euros, which is nearly $500 US.

In a commentary on the study, Garth Ehrlich and Michael Palmer cite another possible cost with the rapid-test scenario. Prior to using any alpha defensin test, physicians must rule out metallosis with MRI, because that non-infectious entity triggers false-positive results.

January 2018 Article Exchange with JOSPT

JOSPT_Article_Exchange_LogoIn 2015, JBJS launched an “article exchange” collaboration with the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) to support multidisciplinary integration, continuity of care, and excellent patient outcomes in orthopaedics and sports medicine.

During the month of January 2018, JBJS and OrthoBuzz readers will have open access to the JOSPT article titled “Hip and Knee Strengthening Is More Effective Than Knee Strengthening Alone for Reducing Pain and Improving Activity in Individuals With Patellofemoral Pain: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis.”

This study, the findings of which are summarized in the title, found that the positive pain and activity outcomes were achieved without concurrent changes in strength.