The operative management of osteoporotic fractures of the knee

To fix or replace?

E. R. Bohm, T. V. Tufescu, J. P. Marsh


This review considers the surgical treatment of displaced fractures involving the knee in elderly, osteoporotic patients. The goals of treatment include pain control, early mobilisation, avoidance of complications and minimising the need for further surgery. Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) frequently results in loss of reduction, which can result in post-traumatic arthritis and the occasional conversion to total knee replacement (TKR). TKR after failed internal fixation is challenging, with modest functional outcomes and high complication rates. TKR undertaken as treatment of the initial fracture has better results to late TKR, but does not match the outcome of primary TKR without complications. Given the relatively infrequent need for late TKR following failed fixation, ORIF is the preferred management for most cases. Early TKR can be considered for those patients with pre-existing arthritis, bicondylar femoral fractures, those who would be unable to comply with weight-bearing restrictions, or where a single definitive procedure is required.


  • No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

  • Received August 23, 2011.
  • Accepted May 3, 2012.
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