Radiolucencies are commonly observed in unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) patients within 1 year of arthroplasty. The objective of the study was to identify how the bone mineral density (BMD) changes up to 1 year post-arthroplasty.
Dual X-ray absorptiometry scans were obtained from 11 UKA patients at 10 days and 3, 6, and 12 months post-surgery. Patients were scanned in both anteroposterior and lateral knee orientations.
Most subjects saw a large decline in BMD in the first 6 months following surgery, followed by some recovery in bone mass. The biggest change occurred under the tibial intercondylar eminence, which decreased significantly by an average of 18 % at 6 months and was 15 % at 1 year. The average bone loss under the tibial tray was low; however, the bone loss at the anterior portion was higher with a significant average decrease of 14 %. There was no change in BMD under the tibial keel. There was significant bone loss of 13 % under the femoral component; the regions anterior and posterior to the central femoral implant peg both had significant bone loss of 14 %. The bone response between patients was very variable, with some patients losing bone steadily, and others gaining it rapidly after an early fall.
While the overall reduction in BMD under both components was low, it was significant and there was substantial individual variation superimposed on this. Improving our understanding of this response to surgery may impact on prosthesis survival.
Level of evidence
Therapeutic study: case series with no comparison group, Level IV.