Background: Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a disabling and destructive condition that commonly affects the knee during childhood. Total knee arthroplasty occasionally may be necessary for the treatment of end-stage disabling arthritis of the knee in young patients. There is a paucity of available data on the results of total knee arthroplasty in adolescents. We report our experience with total knee arthroplasty in patients under the age of twenty years who had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Materials and Methods: We reviewed the results of twenty-five consecutive total knee arthroplasties that had been performed at our institution between 1982 to 1997 in thirteen patients (mean age, seventeen years) with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The average duration of clinical follow-up was 10.7 years, and the average duration of radiographic follow-up was 6.5 years.
Results: The mean Knee Society pain score improved markedly from 27.6 to 88.3 points, and the mean Knee Society function score improved modestly from 14.8 to 39.2 points. There was a slight improvement in the range of motion. Symptomatic and progressive radiolucent lines were noted in two knees, one of which was revised. Two knees (one patient) required exchange of the polyethylene liner at thirteen years. There were four additional reoperations, including manipulation under general anesthesia (two knees in one patient), lysis of adhesions (one knee), and extensor mechanism realignment (one knee).
Conclusions: Despite a substantial number of postoperative complications, total knee arthroplasty provided excellent relief of pain and improvement in function in this group of adolescent patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, Level IV (case series [no, or historical, control group]). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.