Vascular Injuries in Total Knee Arthroplasty: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Kavin Sundaram, Inyang Udo-Inyang, Michael A Mont, Robert Molloy, Carlos Higuera-Rueda, Nicolas S Piuzzi
JBJS Reviews 2020, 8 (1): e0051

BACKGROUND: Vascular injuries associated with total knee arthroplasty can have limb and life-threatening consequences. The aims of this study were to conduct a meta-analysis of the overall rate of vascular injuries after total knee arthroplasty and to conduct a systematic review of specific major and minor vessel injuries.

METHODS: All English-language literature published from January 1, 1998, to November 30, 2018, was queried in 4 unique databases using a common search term. This yielded 404 results, of which 270 were unique. Two reviewers then assessed studies for eligibility. All non-human studies, cadaver studies, studies describing only human images, and human studies with non-acute pathology were excluded. The final study included 10 large epidemiological studies and 68 case series or studies. Data from the literature were abstracted into a comma-separated database spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel. A meta-analysis was then performed. Pooled statistics were calculated with weighting by inverse variance assuming a random effect model. I was calculated as a quantifier of heterogeneity and interpreted according to the Cochrane manual. All data analysis was performed using R software.

RESULTS: Among the 1,419,557 total knee arthroplasties reported in 10 studies, there were 767 major vascular injuries (0.05% [54 per 100,000 total knee arthroplasties]). Amputation or long-term neurological complications occurred in approximately 21% of patients after major vascular injury. Presentation after 24 hours occurred in 36% of cases. The most frequently injured vessels were the geniculate arteries, popliteal artery, superficial femoral artery, and anterior tibial artery. The injuries that were most likely to result in amputation were femoral artery occlusion, popliteal artery transection, and popliteal artery arteriovenous fistula.

CONCLUSIONS: Amputation and long-term neurological complications are common complications after a vascular injury associated with a total knee arthroplasty. Preoperative consultation with vascular surgery physicians may be a prudent approach before a surgical procedure for patients with known peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, or smoking; however, more data on risk factors are needed. Awareness by the surgical team and implementation of specific strategies during a surgical procedure such as gentle manipulation of the knee and careful retraction may further reduce the rate of injuries.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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