BACKGROUND: Knee fractures may lead to post-traumatic knee osteoarthritis and subsequent TKA in some patients. However, absolute risk estimates and risk factors for TKA in patients with knee fractures compared with those of the general population remain largely unknown. Such knowledge would help establish the treatment burden and direct patient counseling after a knee fracture is sustained.
QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: (1) What is the short-term risk of TKA after knee fracture? (2) What is the long-term risk of TKA after knee fracture? (3) What are the risk factors for TKA in patients with knee fractures?
METHODS: A nationwide 20-year, matched-case comparison cohort study of prospectively collected data from the Danish National Patient Registry included all patients at least 15 years old with International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision codes DS724, DS820, or DS821 (knee fractures) on the date their knee fracture was registered. Each patient with a knee fracture was matched (by sex and age) to five people without knee fractures from the general Danish population on the date the knee fracture patient's knee fracture was registered (population controls). Patients with knee fractures and people in the population control group were followed from the date the knee fracture patient's knee fracture was registered to the date of TKA, amputation, knee fusion, emigration, death, or end of follow-up in April 2018. TKA risks for patients with knee fractures versus those for population controls and TKA risk factors in patients with knee fractures were estimated using hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% CIs. A total of 48,791 patients with knee fractures (median age 58 years [interquartile range 41-73]; 58% were female) were matched to 263,593 people in the population control group.
RESULTS: The HR for TKA in patients with knee fractures compared with population controls was 3.74 (95% CI 3.44 to 4.07; p < 0.01) in the first 3 years after knee fracture. Among knee fracture patients, the risk of undergoing TKA was 2% (967 of 48,791) compared with 0.5% (1280 of 263,593) of people in the population control group. After the first 3 years, the HR was 1.59 (95% CI 1.46 to 1.71) and the number of patients with knee fractures with TKA events divided by the number at risk was 2% (849 of 36,272), compared with 1% (2395 of 180,418) of population controls. During the 20-year study period, 4% of patients with knee fractures underwent TKA compared with 1% of population controls. Risk factors for TKA in patients with knee fractures were: primary knee osteoarthritis (OA) versus no primary knee OA (HR 9.57 [95% CI 5.39 to 16.98]), surgical treatment with external fixation versus open reduction and internal fixation and reduction only (HR 1.92 [95 % CI 1.01 to 3.66]), proximal tibia fracture versus patellar fracture (HR 1.75 [95 % CI 1.30 to 2.36]), and distal femur fracture versus patellar fracture (HR 1.68 [95 % CI 1.08 to 2.64]). Surgical treatment of knee fractures was also a risk factor for TKA. The HRs for TKA in patients with knee fractures who were surgically treated versus those who were treated non-surgically were 2.05 (95% CI 1.83 to 2.30) in the first 5 years after knee fracture and 1.19 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.41) after 5 years.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with knee fractures have a 3.7 times greater risk of TKA in the first 3 years after knee fracture, and the risk remains 1.6 times greater after 3 years and throughout their lifetimes. Primary knee OA, surgical treatment of knee fractures, external fixation, proximal tibia fractures, and distal femur fractures are TKA risk factors. These risk estimates and risk factors highlight the treatment burden of knee fractures, building a foundation for future studies to further counsel patients on their risk of undergoing TKA based on patient-, fracture-, and treatment-specific factors.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, prognostic study.