Scientific Articles   |    
Reconstruction of Patellar Tendon Disruption After Total Knee ArthroplastyResults of a New Technique Utilizing Synthetic Mesh
James A. Browne, MD1; Arlen D. Hanssen, MD2
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Virginia, 400 Ray C. Hunt Drive, Suite 330, Charlottesville, VA 22903. E-mail address: jab8hd@virginia.edu
2 Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905. E-mail address: hanssen.arlen@mayo.edu
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Disclosure: The authors did not receive any outside funding or grants in support of their research for or preparation of this work. One or more of the authors, or a member of his or her immediate family, received, in any one year, payments or other benefits in excess of $10,000 or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from commercial entities (Stryker and Ortho Development).

Investigation performed at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

Copyright © 2011 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2011 Jun 15;93(12):1137-1143. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.J.01036
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Patellar tendon disruption associated with total knee arthroplasty is an uncommon but potentially disastrous complication. Repair with isolated suture fixation is insufficient, and autograft and allograft tendon reconstruction techniques have variable results. The purpose of this study was to determine the results of a novel surgical technique in which readily available synthetic mesh is used for patellar tendon reconstruction.


We retrospectively reviewed thirteen consecutive patients who underwent extensor mechanism reconstruction for subacute or chronic patellar tendon disruption following total knee arthroplasty at an average age of sixty years (range, thirty-seven to seventy-seven years). Five patients had already been treated unsuccessfully with an allograft extensor mechanism reconstruction and eight had a prior revision knee arthroplasty. The surgical technique included use of a knitted monofilament polypropylene graft to reconstruct the patellar tendon and to facilitate fixation of adjacent host tissue into the graft. Follow-up was available for all patients at a mean of forty-two months (range, eleven to 118 months).


Three patients had evidence of failure of the graft reconstruction, all within six months. One patient with previous sepsis had recurrent infection and was treated with a knee arthrodesis. The remaining nine patients all demonstrated an extensor lag of no greater than 10° and have had no loss of extension at the time of final follow-up. Knee flexion was maintained in all patients (a mean of 103° preoperatively versus a mean of 107° postoperatively). The mean Knee Society scores for pain and function improved significantly (p < 0.01). Synthetic mesh was significantly less expensive than allograft for this reconstruction.


The use of synthetic mesh to reconstruct a disrupted patellar tendon is a straightforward surgical procedure that was successful and durable in the majority of patients in our series. Compared with the use of an allograft, this technique eliminates the possibility of disease transmission and may be more cost-effective. No complications unique to the synthetic mesh were observed.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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