Functional outcomes after removal of hardware in patellar fracture: are we helping our patients?

Arieh Greenberg, Assaf Kadar, Michael Drexler, Zachary T. Sharfman, Ofir Chechik, Ely L. Steinberg, Nimrod Snir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Functional outcomes after Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) of the patella are variable. Common complications of patella ORIF include persistent anterior knee pain, limited range of motion and symptomatic hardware. The purpose of this study was to evaluate if removal of hardware is beneficial to symptomatic patients after patellar fracture fixation. Methods: Patients who presented to our institution between December 2006 and November 2014 with patella fractures treated with ORIF were eligible for inclusion. Patella ORIF was performed using (1) K-wires (KW) with a tension band construct or (2) Cannulated Screws (CS) with a tension band construct. Radiological analyses included (1) AO classification and (2) measurements of prominent hardware length. Patient medical charts were reviewed for demographic and intraoperative data as well as peri/postoperative complications. All patients completed the SF-12 score, visual analog scale, Kujala score, Lysholm score and questionaries’ regarding return to previous activity levels. Results: Forty-seven patients met the inclusion criteria. The average time from fracture fixation to removal of hardware was 15.8 (SD ± 14.9) months. The mean follow-up was 43.1 (SD ± 27.1) months. Patella fixation was accomplished using tension band constructs with KW in 28 patients (59.5%) or with CS in 19 patients (40.5%). Patient reported quality of life and pain outcomes improved significantly after removal of hardware (p = 0.001, and p = 0.002 respectively). Functional outcome scores (Kujala and Lysholm) did not improve significantly after hardware removal in the KW or CS groups. Significantly more patients in the KW group returned to pre-injury activity (p = 0.005). Conclusions: Hardware removal after patella ORIF significantly improves patient reported pain and quality of life outcomes but not functional outcomes. Patients should be counseled regarding the expected outcome of hardware removal following patella ORIF and diabetic patients should be given special consideration before undergoing this procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-330
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Functional outcome
  • Hardware removal
  • Patellar fractures
  • Quality of life


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