Bone and Joint Institute

Lateral subvastus approach: A cadaveric examination of its potential for total knee arthroplasty

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© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Background: Lateral approaches to total knee arthroplasty (TKA) provide good surgical exposure and may provide greater ease of soft tissue balancing in patients with a valgus deformity; however, little is known about the versatility in non-valgus knees. The present study evaluated if a lateral subvastus approach can achieve adequate surgical exposure while maintaining less soft tissue damage compared with the medial parapatellar approach in knees without any significant deformity. Methods: Using paired fresh-frozen cadaveric knees, the present study provides the first specimen-matched, side-by-side comparison of the lateral subvastus approach to the standard medial parapatellar approach to TKA. Ten knees were selected to undergo a lateral subvastus approach; the contralateral knee had a medial parapatellar approach as control. Incision length, surgical exposure and iatrogenic soft tissue damage were compared between the two approaches. Results: The lateral subvastus approach was successfully performed using an incision length that was not different from that used in the medial parapatellar approach (p > 0.05). The resultant surgical exposure was comparable between approaches (p > 0.05). The risk of the approach included tearing of the vastus lateralis fibers, and/or abrasion of the iliotibial tract/patellar ligament. Conclusions: The lateral subvastus approach to TKA provided a comparable method to the standard medial parapatellar approach. Despite adequate exposure, the approach did risk soft tissue injury. Caution needs to be exercised to reduce the risk of iatrogenic injury to the vastus lateralis and surrounding ligaments. The successful implementation in this cadaveric study substantiates the need for further consideration of this approach in clinical practice.

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