The Inverse Spacer : a Novel, Safe, and Cost-Effective Approach in Routine Procedures for Revision Knee Arthroplasty


A major disadvantage of current spacers for two-stage revision total knee arthroplasty (R-TKA) is the risk of (sub-) luxation during mobilization in the prosthesis-free interval, limiting their clinical success with detrimental consequences for the patient. The present study introduces a novel inverse spacer, which prevents major complications, such as spacer (sub-) luxations and/or fractures of spacer or bone.


The hand-made inverse spacer consisted of convex tibial and concave femoral components of polymethylmethacrylate bone cement and was intra-operatively molded under maximum longitudinal tension in 5° flexion and 5° valgus position. Both components were equipped with a stem for rotational stability. This spacer was implanted during an R-TKA in 110 knees with diagnosed or suspected periprosthetic infection. Postoperative therapy included a straight leg brace and physiotherapist-guided, crutch-supported mobilization with full sole contact. X-rays were taken before and after prosthesis removal and re-implantation.


None of the patients experienced (sub-) luxations/fractures of the spacer, periprosthetic fractures, or soft tissue compromise requiring reoperation. All patients were successfully re-implanted after a prosthesis-free interval of 8 weeks, except for three patients requiring an early exchange of the spacer due to persisting infection. In these cases, the prosthetic-free interval was prolonged for one week.


The inverse spacer in conjunction with our routine procedure is a safe and cost-effective alternative to other articulating or static spacers, and allows crutch-supported sole contact mobilization without major post-operative complications. Maximum longitudinal intra-operative tension in 5° flexion and 5° valgus position appears crucial for the success of surgery.


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