Angiographic findings in patients with postoperative soft tissue defects following total knee arthroplasty



A postoperative defect of the surrounding soft tissue is one main risk factor for implant exposure and infection following total knee arthroplasty (TKR). The main factors that promote infection, tissue ischemia, and hypoxia are strongly associated with arterial insufficiency and the prevalence of impaired peripheral perfusion. We hypothesized that vascular malperfusion is the predisposing reason for soft tissue complications following TKR necessitating plastic reconstructive surgery.


A retrospective chart review was made among patients (n = 12) with soft tissue defects due to wound infection following a total knee arthroplasty referred to plastic reconstructive surgery. All patients presented with an exposed implant, and angiographic imaging was performed prior to reconstructive procedures.


Eight out of twelve patients (67%) had a pathological vascular status. In three of these patients, interventional procedures were performed to ameliorate perfusion. In ten patients (83%), the defect was covered with a plastic reconstructive regional or free tissue transfer. Four patients received a free latissimus dorsi flap and six patients a pedicled a gastrocnemius muscle flap. In one patient, a secondary wound closure was needed after knee arthrodesis and an amputation was performed in another patient due to a multiresistant staphylococcus aureus infection and massive tissue destruction at the time of admission.


We suggest to rule out peripheral occlusive disease among patients undergoing TKR at best prior to orthopedic surgery using pulses and, if in doubt ankle-brachial index and doppler sonography Consequently, if vascular occlusions are then confirmed by angiography, dilatation and stenting or revascularization should be performed, to ameliorate perfusion.

Level of evidence

Retrospective case series with no comparison groups, Level IV.

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None of the authors has any commercial associations that might pose or create a conflict of interest with information on products presented in this article.

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Correspondence to Christian Herold.

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C. Herold and A. Steiert contributed equally to the work.

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Herold, C., Steiert, A., Knobloch, K. et al. Angiographic findings in patients with postoperative soft tissue defects following total knee arthroplasty. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 19, 2045–2049 (2011).

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  • Total knee arthroplasty
  • Soft tissue defect
  • Reconstruction angiography