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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 695-699
Cement pedestal spacer technique for infected two-stage revision knee arthroplasty: Description and comparison of complications


Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, Charing Cross Hospital, London, UK

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Date of Web Publication7-Oct-2019
 

   Abstract 


Background: Infection following total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is a significant complication, with an incidence of up to 2% in primary TKA and 4%–8% in revision cases. Two-stage revision is the gold standard treatment for long-lasting infections of TKA. The purpose of this study was to describe the cement pedestal spacer technique used in infected two-stage revision knee arthroplasty and compare complications against conventional fixed and mobile cement spacers. Patients and Methods: A retrospective review was conducted in all cases who underwent two-stage TKA revision for infection between 2009 and 2015. These cases were separated into groups depending on the cement spacer utilized (fixed, mobile nonpedestal, and mobile spacers with cement pedestal). The cement pedestal technique involves press fitting a cement cylinder into the femur before definitive spacer insertion. Results: Forty four patients underwent two-stage revision TKA. Fewest complications were observed in the pedestal group, with no spacers having subluxed/tilted. The longest followup was also observed in the pedestal group (mean 52.5 months). Mobile spacers with no cement pedestal displayed the highest reinfection rate (16.7%) and the greatest number of cases with complications (malalignment, subluxation, tilting, and spacer fracture). All patients in the pedestal group were ambulatory after the first-stage revision. Conclusions: The cement pedestal technique minimizes complications by optimizing component positioning and balancing. It also safely extends the indication for an articulated spacer into a set of cases with more extensive bone loss and allows for extended monitoring of inflammatory markers.

Keywords: Cement pedestal technique, Cement spacer, two-stage revision knee arthroplasty

How to cite this article:
Akhtar A, Mitchell C, Assis C, Iranpour F, Kropelnicki A, Strachan R. Cement pedestal spacer technique for infected two-stage revision knee arthroplasty: Description and comparison of complications. Indian J Orthop 2019;53:695-9

How to cite this URL:
Akhtar A, Mitchell C, Assis C, Iranpour F, Kropelnicki A, Strachan R. Cement pedestal spacer technique for infected two-stage revision knee arthroplasty: Description and comparison of complications. Indian J Orthop [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Nov 22];53:695-9. Available from: http://www.ijoonline.com/text.asp?2019/53/6/695/268656



   Introduction Top


Infection following total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is one of the most significant complications faced by both patient and surgeon alike, with an incidence of up to 2% in primary TKA and 4%–8% in revision cases.[1] This is despite the use of prophylactic antibiotics. Controversy also exists regarding the length of time for observation between first- and second-stage procedures and the management in complex presentations including re-revisions and patients with skin changes and chronic sinuses.

Two-stage revision, first advocated by Insall et al.,[2] is the gold standard treatment for long-lasting infections of TKA, allowing time to monitor wounds and inflammatory markers while administering systemic antibiotics for several weeks. The technique of placing an antibiotic-impregnated cement block after debridement and removal of the infected prostheses was first described by Cohen et al.[3]

Articulating spacers are now popular due to their advantage of preserving a range of motion and maintaining muscle strength. However, these can have a high incidence of complications, including fractures, dislocations, and malalignment.[4],[5] Such articulating spacers must be balanced in a way similar to ordinary TKAs, but this can be difficult to achieve due to loss of bone stock and ligament laxity. A modified surgical technique, therefore, seems necessary not only to improve such balancing during first-stage revision but also to provide time to monitor higher risk patients for longer periods while maintaining their range of motion and mobility.

The purpose of this study, therefore, was to describe the cement pedestal spacer technique used in infected two-stage revision knee arthroplasty and compare complications against conventional fixed and mobile cement spacers.


   Patients And Methods Top


A retrospective review was conducted in all cases in our institution who underwent two-stage TKA revision for infection between 2009 and 2015. These cases were then separated into three groups depending on the cement spacer utilized. These were (1) fixed spacers, (2) mobile nonpedestal spacers, or (3) mobile spacers with cement pedestal. The cement pedestal technique (3) is described in detail below.

A comparison was then made between the groups based on the incidence of complications encountered including gap size, malalignment (defined as more than ten degrees of varus/valgus angulation), tilting, subluxation, and spacer fracture. The interval between the first and second stages was also determined, as well as those patients undergoing repeat first stages. Ambulatory status after first-stage revision surgery was also obtained.

Fixed, nonmobile cement spacers were inserted after debridement and removal of both infected components to occupy the remaining knee joint cavity, with extension into both femoral and tibial canals. Two 40 g bags of Palacos R® (Heraeus Medical, Wehrheim, Germany) cement including 2 g gentamicin were used.

Mobile spacers without cement pedestal were inserted utilizing premolded Spacer-K (Tecres®, Verona, Italy) which is a temporary implantable device indicated to replace a joint prosthesis removed as a result of a septic process, being cemented in. Two 40 g bags of Palacos R® cement including 2 g gentamicin were used.

Cement pedestal technique

The cement pedestal technique is used to optimize exposure, stability, and component positioning. The technique also allows the surgeon to balance the joint precisely while also maintaining bone length and soft-tissue tensions and preserving bone stock.

After removal of both infected knee components followed by irrigation and debridement of the femoral and tibial canals, the technique is carried out using Spacer-K and two 40 g bags of Palacos R® cement which include 2 g gentamicin. The first mix of cement can be split into three phases: early, middle, and late. In the early phase, the tibial component of the cement spacer is cemented orthogonally at the height of the proximal fibula, and the remaining cement is then molded into a large cylinder [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Cement pedestal formation

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During the middle phase, the cylinder of cement which is still just malleable is loosely press fitted into the shaft of the femur, leaving it proud for several centimeters [Figure 2]. The aim is to leave smooth conical shapes in the diaphyseal parts of both the tibia and femur which will be relatively easy to remove at the second stage of the revision.
Figure 2: Cement pedestal insertion into the femur

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In the late phase, when the cement is set, serial cuts to the cement protruding from the femur are made facilitating positioning of the femoral component of the spacer into a semi-stable situation. Care is taken to support the spacer posteriorly to avoid breakage of the flanges during testing. Adjustments to length, anteroposterior position, and rotation (keeping anatomical reference points visible) can be made at this juncture to optimize alignment, ligament tensions, and therefore, stability [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Adjustments to length, anteroposterior position, and rotation can be made late in the first cement mix

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The second cement mix is used to fix the femoral component of the spacer in place [Figure 4]. Cement is carefully used to build up any commonly occurring deficiencies, the epicondylar ridges as well as buttressing the posterior flanges of the femoral component, which are prone to subsequent breakage.
Figure 4: The femoral component is cemented into place while the epicondylar ridges are built up and the posterior flanges of the femoral component are buttressed

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In this way, therefore, during the second mix, important final adjustments can be made which include fine tuning of alignment and the flexion gap. Stability in extension, which is crucial for successful mobilization, is then assessed. Some flexion laxity seems acceptable at this stage to increase range of motion.

Plain radiographs of the mobile spacer in situ having utilized the cement pedestal technique are shown in [Figure 5] and [Figure 6].
Figure 5: Anteroposterior plain radiograph of a mobile cement spacer in situ having used the cement pedestal technique

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Figure 6: Lateral plain radiograph of a mobile cement spacer in situ having used the cement pedestal technique

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   Results Top


Forty four patients underwent two-stage revision TKA between 2009 and 2015. The results are summarized in [Table 1].
Table 1: Complications seen across the three groups

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Fewest complications were observed in the cement pedestal group, with no spacers having subluxed or tilted in this group. The longest followup was also observed in the pedestal group. Mobile spacers with no cement pedestal displayed a higher incidence of malalignment, subluxation, tilting, and spacer fracture. This is in addition to having the highest reinfection rate and the greatest number of cases with complications.

Ambulatory status after first-stage revision was also obtained across the three groups. These are summarized in [Table 2].
Table 2: Ambulatory status across the three groups after first-stage revision

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   Discussion Top


This study was conducted to assess the complications encountered using the cement pedestal spacer technique in infected two-stage revision knee arthroplasty compared to conventional fixed and mobile cement spacers. We have found that the cement pedestal group was associated with far fewer complications compared with that of the fixed and mobile spacer nonpedestal groups, by optimizing component positioning and balancing. All patients in the cement pedestal group were ambulatory after first-stage revision surgery, supporting the fact that range of motion can be preserved while utilizing the cement spacer technique.

Management of an infected TKA remains one of the major challenges faced by a knee surgeon. Several options, including single-stage revision and chronic antibiotic suppression, exist to manage this particular severe clinical problem. However, two-stage revision is still considered to be the best way forward to monitor for recurrent infection and reduce the need for rerevision of fully cemented components while preserving knee function.[2] The results of our series not only confirm this but also seem to safely extend the indication for an articulated spacer into a set of cases with more extensive bone loss which previously would have required a fixed spacer, as evidenced by the increased gap sizes in the first stage of revision observed in the cement pedestal group.

To only use a fixed spacer is still somewhat controversial, but some surgeons believe that the stabilized and nonmobile nature of the spacer provides a better environment for the eradication of infection.[6] The main disadvantage of fixed spacers is, however, joint stiffness and poor range of motion after the second stage of the revision. Instability and wound healing problems have also been associated with fixed spacers although to a lesser extent compared to mobile spacers. In addition, some authors state that static spacers may not restore the normal anatomic joint contours, particularly in heavier patients, thus leading to significant bone loss associated with a higher risk of spacer displacement.[7]

Static spacers do, however, seem to have a role in patients with severe ligamentous instability, highly compromised extensor mechanisms, and massive bone loss after the infected prosthesis has been removed. They may also have a role to play when inadequate soft-tissue cover necessitates plastic surgical intervention.[8] Johnson et al.[9] discovered comparable reinfection rates among 115 total knee arthroplasties (34 articulating spacers and 81 static spacers). Six patients in the dynamic spacer cohort (17%) and 14 patients in the static spacer cohort (17%) became reinfected and underwent further debridement. Four complications were found in the dynamic spacer group (2 fractures, 1 subluxation, and 1 dislocation). However, the authors state these could all be explained by surgical technical errors or patient weight-bearing compliance.

As opposed to static spacers, some authors believe that articulating mobile spacers provide satisfactory infection control while also improving function and range of motion.[10],[11] This motion can maintain adequate length and preserve the extensor mechanism while preventing scar tissue formation around the knee joint, which contributes to quadricep shortening, capsular thickening, and contracture. Such motion seems to explain easier reimplantation noted during revision surgery following the use of such a technique.[12]

Van Thiel et al.[5] reviewed 60 patients with infected TKA using a cement-on-cement articulating antibiotic spacer fashioned intraoperatively from prefabricated silicone molds. After mean followup of 35 months, reinfection rate was 12% (7 patients). Mean duration between first- and second-stage revision surgeries was 75 days (30–326 days).

No cement spacer fractures or subluxation/dislocations were observed in the 14 patients undergoing articulating spacer insertion using the cement pedestal technique in the present study.

Several spacer-related problems have also been reported by Struelens et al.[4] during a retrospective analysis of 154 patients who underwent a two-stage revision procedure for an infected TKA using an articulating cement spacer. The main finding of this study was the large incidence (57%) of spacer-specific problems – spacer tilting and mediolateral translation. These were found to be the most frequent problems (24% and 21% of the cases, respectively). In 3% of cases, the spacer had dislocated; in 5%, the spacer had fractured; and in 4%, knee subluxation could be noted. The second-stage surgery was performed after a mean of 55 days (31–79 days).

This study has shown the benefits of utilizing the cement pedestal technique for the first-stage revision knee arthroplasty. It is associated with fewer complications compared with both fixed and mobile nonpedestal spacers. A longer interval time between first- and second-stage revision surgeries is then possible to observe for recurrent infection in the cases at increased risk of recurrent infection as noted above. In this study, longer followup times before second-stage revision facilitated extended periods of observation for those patients most at risk of recurrence. Where surgical resources are limited, then longevity of a spacer can also be most useful.

A limitation of the study, however, is that knee function scores were not obtained. Nonetheless, the parameters for success in such cases perhaps ought to be lower than after definitive first- or second-stage implantation, and indeed, overall ambulatory status was simply improved by the reduction in overall complications. Another advantage of the technique seems to be that the treating surgeon can afford to wait for any reasonable period of time to allow wounds to heal including plastic surgery procedures while waiting for inflammatory markers to settle.


   Conclusions Top


Two-stage revision for infected TKA remains the gold standard in managing infected knee replacements. Articulating spacers have several advantages including improved range of motion and muscle strength while delivering local antibiotics. However, the high reported risk of mechanical complications including spacer breakage and subluxation puts bone stock at risk and may prompt a premature second stage.

The cement pedestal technique minimizes such complications by optimizing component positioning and balancing. The functional longevity of the spacer is increased allowing an extended monitoring time for any recurrent infection compared to the current literature. Complications, including spacer fracture or dislocation, are much reduced with this technique. In addition, the cement pedestal technique seems to safely extend the indication for an articulated spacer into a set of cases with more extensive bone loss, which previously would have required a fixed spacer.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
   References Top

1.
Park SJ, Song EK, Seon JK, Yoon TR, Park GH. Comparison of static and mobile antibiotic-impregnated cement spacers for the treatment of infected total knee arthroplasty. Int Orthop 2010;34:1181-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Insall JN, Thompson FM, Brause BD. Two-stage reimplantation for the salvage of infected total knee arthroplasty 1983. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2002;84-A: 490.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Cohen JC, Hozack WJ, Cuckler JM, Booth RE Jr. Two-stage reimplantation of septic total knee arthroplasty. Report of three cases using an antibiotic-PMMA spacer block. J Arthroplasty 1988;3:369-77.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Struelens B, Claes S, Bellemans J. Spacer-related problems in two-stage revision knee arthroplasty. Acta Orthop Belg 2013;79:422-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Van Thiel GS, Berend KR, Klein GR, Gordon AC, Lombardi AV, Della Valle CJ. Intraoperative molds to create an articulating spacer for the infected knee arthroplasty. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2011;469:994-1001.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Faschingbauer M, Bieger R, Reichel H, Weiner C, Kappe T. Complications associated with 133 static, antibiotic-laden spacers after TKA. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2016;24:3096-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Shen H, Zhang X, Jiang Y, Wang Q, Chen Y, Wang Q, et al. Intraoperatively-made cement-on-cement antibiotic-loaded articulating spacer for infected total knee arthroplasty. Knee 2010;17:407-11.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Voleti PB, Baldwin KD, Lee GC. Use of static or articulating spacers for infection following total knee arthroplasty: A systematic literature review. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2013;95:1594-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Johnson AJ, Sayeed SA, Naziri Q, Khanuja HS, Mont MA. Minimizing dynamic knee spacer complications in infected revision arthroplasty. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2012;470:220-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Emerson RH Jr., Muncie M, Tarbox TR, Higgins LL. Comparison of a static with a mobile spacer in total knee infection. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2002;(404):132-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Fehring TK, Odum S, Calton TF, Mason JB. Articulating versus static spacers in revision total knee arthroplasty for sepsis. The Ranawat award. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2000;(380):9-16.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Mazzucchelli L, Rosso F, Marmotti A, Bonasia DE, Bruzzone M, Rossi R, et al. The use of spacers (static and mobile) in infection knee arthroplasty. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med 2015;8:373-82.  Back to cited text no. 12
    

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Correspondence Address:
Mr. Ahsan Akhtar
20 Mount Drive, Wembley Park, Middlesex, London HA9 9ED
UK
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ortho.IJOrtho_90_19

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