Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 468, Issue 4, pp 1096–1106

How to Treat the Stiff Total Knee Arthroplasty?: A Systematic Review

  • Sean E. Fitzsimmons
  • Edward A. Vazquez
  • Michael J. Bronson
Clinical Research

DOI: 10.1007/s11999-010-1230-y

Cite this article as:
Fitzsimmons, S.E., Vazquez, E.A. & Bronson, M.J. Clin Orthop Relat Res (2010) 468: 1096. doi:10.1007/s11999-010-1230-y



Multiple modalities have been used to treat the stiff TKA, including manipulation under anesthesia (MUA), arthroscopy, and open arthrolysis.


We reviewed the literature to address three questions: (1) How many degrees of ROM will a stiff TKA gain after MUA, arthroscopy, and open arthrolysis? (2) Does the timing of each procedure influence this gain in ROM? (3) What is the number of clinically important complications for each procedure?


We performed a PubMed search of English language articles from 1966 to 2008 and identified 20 articles, mostly Level IV studies.


For patients who have arthrofibrosis after TKA, the gains in ROM after MUA and arthroscopy (with or without MUA) are similar. Open arthrolysis seems to have inferior gains in ROM. MUA is more successful in increasing ROM when performed early but still may be effective when performed late. Arthroscopy combined with MUA still is useful 1 year after the index TKA. The numbers of clinically important complications after MUA and arthroscopy (with or without MUA) are similar.


Stiffness after TKA is a common problem that can be improved with MUA and/or arthroscopic lysis of adhesions with few complications. The low quality of available literature makes it difficult to develop treatment protocols.

Level of Evidence

Level IV, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Copyright information

© The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons® 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean E. Fitzsimmons
    • 1
  • Edward A. Vazquez
    • 2
  • Michael J. Bronson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of OrthopaedicsThe Mount Sinai HospitalNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.The Mount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA