, Volume 471, Issue 7, pp 2333-2339

Extensor Function After Medial Gastrocnemius Flap Reconstruction of the Proximal Tibia

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Topic
Tumor

Abstract

Background

Reconstruction of the extensor mechanism after resection of the proximal tibia is challenging, and several methods are available. A medial gastrocnemius flap commonly is used, although it may be associated with an extensor lag. This problem also is encountered, although perhaps to a lesser extent, with other techniques for reconstruction of the extensor apparatus. It is not known how such lag develops with time and how it correlates with functional outcome.

Questions/purposes

We therefore (1) assessed patellar height with time, (2) correlated patellar height with function using the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society (MSTS) score, and (3) correlated patellar height with range of motion (ROM) after medial gastrocnemius flap reconstruction.

Methods

Sixteen patients underwent tumor endoprosthesis implantation and extensor apparatus reconstruction between 1997 and 2009 using a medial gastrocnemius flap after sarcoma resection of the proximal tibia. These patients represented 100% of the population for whom we performed extensor mechanism reconstructions during that time. The minimum followup was 2 years (mean, 5 years; range, 2–11 years). Fourteen patients were alive at the time of this study. We used the Blackburne-Peel Index to follow patellar height radiographically with time. Functional outcomes were assessed retrospectively using the MSTS, and ROM was evaluated through active extensor lag and flexion.

Results

Eleven patients had patella alta develop, whereby the maximal patellar height was reached after a mean of 2 years and then stabilized. More normal patellar height was associated with better functional scores, a smaller extensor lag, but less flexion; the mean extensor lag (and flexion) of patients with patella alta was 17° (and 94°) compared with only 4° (and 77°) without.

Conclusions

In our patients patella alta evolved during the first 2 postoperative years. Patella alta is associated with extensor lag, greater flexion, and worse MSTS scores. Surgical fixation of the patellar tendon more distally to its anatomic position or strict postoperative bracing may be advisable.

Level of Evidence

Level IV, clinical cohort study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Each author certifies that he or she, or a member of his or her immediate family, has no funding or commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article.
All ICMJE Conflict of Interest Forms for authors and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research editors and board members are on file with the publication and can be viewed on request.
Each author certifies that his or her institution approved the human protocol for this investigation, that all investigations were conducted in conformity with ethical principles of research, and that informed consent for participation in the study was obtained.