Static Non-articulating Knee Spacers Are Associated with a High Degree of Morbidity in Challenging Clinical Scenarios


The morbidity associated with the use of static non-articulating knee spacers for the treatment of periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) in challenging clinical scenarios has not been well described. From 2011–2019, 63 molded block static spacers were utilized at two academic institutions for the treatment of PJI with associated severe soft tissue compromise (59%), collateral ligament deficiency (49%), extensor mechanism compromise (48%), or type 3 bone defects (44%). Complications and outcomes were assessed. Complications with the use of static spacers were common and included further bone loss (46%), spacer migration (16%), extensor mechanism compromise (16%), cast or related soft tissue injuries (16%), fracture (13%), and spacer breakage (3%). Ultimately, 22% of patients underwent amputation. Patient variables such as age and body mass index were not associated with outcomes. Static knee spacers are associated with substantial morbidity in challenging clinical scenarios and alternatives may need to be considered. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 32(2):122–126, 2023)

Key words: total knee arthroplasty, static antibiotic spacers, periprosthetic joint infection, complications

Emanuel C. Haug, MD; Jeremy T. Hines, MD; Benjamin Dalkin, BA; Patrick J. Dunne, BA; Wendy M. Novicoff, PhD; Lucian C. Warth, MD; R. Michael Meneghini, MD; and James A. Browne, MD