Intra-articular fractures may hasten posttraumatic arthritis in patients who are typically too active and too young for joint replacement. Current orthopaedic treatment principles, including recreating anatomic alignment and establishing articular congruity, have not eliminated posttraumatic arthritis. Additional biomechanical and biological factors may contribute to the development of arthritis. The objective of the present study was to evaluate human synovial fluid for friction-lowering function and the concentrations of putative lubricant molecules following tibial plateau fractures.Methods:
Synovial fluid specimens were obtained from the knees of eight patients (twenty-five to fifty-seven years old) with a tibial plateau fracture, with five specimens from the injured knee as plateau fracture synovial fluid and six specimens from the contralateral knee as control synovial fluid. Each specimen was centrifuged to obtain a fluid sample, separated from a cell pellet, for further analysis. For each fluid sample, the start-up (static) and steady-state (kinetic) friction coefficients in the boundary mode of lubrication were determined from a cartilage-on-cartilage biomechanical test of friction. Also, concentrations of the putative lubricants, hyaluronan and proteoglycan-4, as well as total protein, were determined for fluid samples.Results:
The group of experimental samples were obtained at a mean (and standard deviation) of 11 ± 9 days after injury from patients with a mean age of 45 ± 13 years. Start-up and kinetic friction coefficients demonstrated similar trends and dependencies. The kinetic friction coefficients for human plateau fracture synovial fluid were approximately 100% higher than those for control human synovial fluid. Hyaluronan concentrations were ninefold lower for plateau fracture synovial fluid compared with the control synovial fluid, whereas proteoglycan-4 concentrations were more than twofold higher in plateau fracture synovial fluid compared with the control synovial fluid. Univariate and multivariate regression analysis indicated that kinetic friction coefficient increased as hyaluronan concentration decreased.Conclusions:
Knees afflicted with a tibial plateau fracture have synovial fluid with decreased lubrication properties in association with a decreased concentration of hyaluronan.Clinical Relevance:
Tibial plateau fractures result in a posttraumatic deficiency in synovial fluid lubrication function.