Reconstruction of patellar tendon rupture after total knee arthroplasty with an extensor mechanism allograft

R. H. Emerson, W. C. Head, T. I. Malinin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Although patellar tendon rupture after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is a rare complication, the consistently poor outcome of conventional tendon repair has convinced some to abandon such reconstruction in favor of a prospective protocol using an allograft distal extensor mechanism. The graft consists of a quadriceps tendon, a patella with a cemented prosthesis, a patellar tendon, and a tibial tubercle. Since December 1985, 13 knees in 12 patients were reconstructed using this method. Ten knees were followed for six to 51 months; five of these knees were followed for more than 24 months. Knee extension power and improved function were ultimately attained in all cases, although minimal extensor lags were present in three cases. Preoperative motion returned in all but one knee. Healing of the allograft to the host tissue was attained primarily at all of the tibial junctions. Two graft complications occurred, both in the first three months after surgery: one quadriceps junction treated by resuture failed at the one-month mark, and the other graft had to be revised for extensor weakness from rupture of the graft at the patella-patellar tendon junction, which was attributed to surgical damage to the tendon. After completion of healing to the host and rehabilitation of the knee joint, no grafts in the series failed during the course of normal daily activities. One patient fractured the allograft patella in a severe fall. The long-term durability of this construct needs to be studied further.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-161
Number of pages8
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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