Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Current Failure Mechanisms After Knee Arthroplasty Have Changed: Polyethylene Wear Is Less Common in Revision Surgery

Thiele, Kathi MD; Perka, Carsten MD; Matziolis, Georg MD; Mayr, Hermann Otto MD; Sostheim, Michael MD; Hube, Robert MD

Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery - American Volume: 6 May 2015 - Volume 97 - Issue 9 - p 715–720
doi: 10.2106/JBJS.M.01534
Scientific Articles
Supplementary Content

Background: The present study was designed to clarify which underlying indications can be currently considered the main reasons for failure after total knee arthroplasty as a function of time.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study that included all first revisions of total knee replacements during 2005 to 2010 at two high-volume arthroplasty centers. A revision was defined as the replacement of at least one prosthetic component. In the descriptive analysis, polyethylene wear, aseptic loosening, periprosthetic infection, malalignment, instability, arthrofibrosis, extensor mechanism deficiency, periprosthetic fracture, and retropatellar arthritis were given as the failure mechanism associated with an early, intermediate, or late time interval (less than one year, one to three years, and more than three years, respectively) after the index total knee arthroplasty.

Results: Three hundred and fifty-eight revision total knee arthroplasties were included. Of those revisions, 19.8% were performed within the first year after the index arthroplasty. The most common indications for revision, besides aseptic loosening (21.8%), were instability (21.8%), malalignment (20.7%), and periprosthetic infection (14.5%). Revisions due to polyethylene wear (7%) rarely occurred. In the early failure group, the primary causes of revision were periprosthetic infection (26.8%) and instability (23.9%). In the intermediate group, instability (23.3%) and malalignment (29.4%) required revision surgery, whereas late failure mechanisms were aseptic loosening (34.7%), instability (18.5%), and polyethylene wear (18.5%).

Conclusions: Aseptic loosening, instability, malalignment, and periprosthetic infection continue to be the primary failure mechanisms leading to revision surgery. Contrary to previous literature, the results in the present study showed a substantial reduction in implant-associated revisions such as those due to polyethylene wear. Failure mechanisms that occur persistently early and in the intermediate term, such as periprosthetic infection, instability, and malalignment, remain common causes of revision surgery.

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

1Centrum für Muskuloskeletale Chirurgie Charite, Chariteplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany. E-mail address for K. Thiele: E-mail address for C. Perka:

2Waldkrankenhaus “Rudolf Elle,” Klosterlausnitzer Straße 81, 07607 Eisenberg, Germany. E-mail address:

3Operative Chirurgie München, Steinerstraße 6, 81369 München, Germany. E-mail address for H.O. Mayr: E-mail address for M. Sostheim: E-mail address for R. Hube:

Copyright 2015 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
You currently do not have access to this article

To access this article: