Total knee arthroplasty in a case of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis; challenges in ligament balancing and deformity correction

Learning Point of the Article:

Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis can present as a painful stiff knee and can limit final range of motion after total knee arthroplasty.

Case Report | Volume 9 | Issue 3 | JOCR May-June 2019 | Page 34-38 | Anoop Jhurani, Piyush Agarwal, Mukesh Aswal, Vishal Gupta. DOI: 10.13107/jocr.2250-0685.1408

AuthorsAnoop Jhurani, Piyush Agarwal, Mukesh Aswal, Vishal Gupta

[1]Department of Orthopaedics, Joint Replacement Surgery Research Unit, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.
[2]Department of Anaesthesia, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.

Address of Correspondence:
Dr. Anoop Jhurani,
Director Joint Replacement Services, Fortis Escorts Hospital, JLN Marg, Malviya Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.


Introduction: Diffuse skeletal idiopathic hyperostosis is a non-inflammatory systemic skeletal condition in which there is ossification of ligaments, tendons, and joint capsule. Although the radiological changes and clinical manifestation of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) in the spine have been well defined in the literature, the changes in the knee and their implications on knee replacement are unclear.
Case Report: A 60 year -year-old patient presented with pain, stiffness, and decreased arc of movement at the right knee. The X-rays showed ossification of the joint capsule, ligaments, and quadriceps expansion. The spine had has calcification of the anterior longitudinal ligament and ‘“wax drop’ drop” enthesophytes. Based on the complete skeletal survey, a diagnosis of DISH was made. During knee arthroplasty, it was difficult to correct the deformity with a measured resection technique. Additional resection of 4 mm was done both from the distal femur and proximal tibia to correct the deformity and achieve optimal kinematics. This unpliable nature of the soft tissues due to enthesitis ossification of periarticular tissues led to decrease flexion postoperatively.
Conclusion: Surgeons should keep the diagnosis of DISH in mind when dealing with a stiff knee and be prepared for additional bone resection with extensive soft tissue release to balance the prosthetic knee joint.
Keywords: Computer navigation, Diffuse idiopathic Skeletal hyperostosis, Stiff knee, Total knee replacement.

Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) or diffuse skeletal idiopathic hyperostosis is a non-inflammatory systemic skeletal condition in which there is ossification of ligaments, tendons, and joint capsule [1]. It is also known as Forestier disease or senile vertebral ankylosing hyperostosis and occurs more commonly in older males [2]. Changes are marked in the spine with calcification of the anterior longitudinal ligament and maintenance of disc space [3]. Although the radiological changes and clinical manifestation of DISH in the spine have been well defined in the literature [4], the changes in the knee and their implications on knee replacement are unclear. We present the challenges encountered during knee replacement in a case of DISH and an algorithm to balance and correct the deformity with computer navigation (Fig. 1).

Case Report
A 60 year -year-old ex-army man presented with painful arthritis of the knee and fixed flexion deformity of 5°. The range of motion of the affected knee was from 5 to -90°. There was significant calcification in the quadriceps expansion both in supra and infrapatellar areas. There were unusual spike shaped enthesophytes in the quadriceps tendon (Fig. 1). The joint capsule and the medial collateral ligament also showed ossification. On further evaluation of his spine, there was classical ossification of the anterior longitudinal ligament of thoracic, cervical, and lumbar regions with the maintenance of joint space (Fig. 2). Pelvis skiagram showed ossification of the capsule with maintenance of joint space (Fig. 3). Sacroiliac and zygoapophyseal joints were not fused. Small joints of hand and feet also showed ossification in the ligaments and joint capsule (Fig. 4). Based on the criteria of Resnick and Niwayama [5, 6], a diagnosis of DISH was made. A differential of DISH with similar etiologies is detailed in [Table 1].
DISH is known to be associated with metabolic syndrome (hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes) though this particular patient did not have any metabolic association [7, 8]. DISH patients can have respiratory, upper esophageal and neurological manifestations because of due to compression from enthesophytes at cervical and upper dorsal regions [9]. This may lead to complications during or after anesthesia [10]. The patient in this report did not have any of the above complications before or after surgery as the procedure was done under regional epidural anesthesia.

Surgical Technique
All knee replacements in our unit are performed with image-free Ci navigation system (Brain Lab, Munich, Germany) with pins inserted inside the incision (Fig. 5). Femur The femur is prepared first and measured resection is done to accommodate the implants. Final soft tissue balancing is done at the end of the procedure based on objective data from the navigation. The aim is to correct the deformity in sagittal and coronal planes and achieve optimum patellar tracking. In this case, the knee remained in 20° flexion after measured resection. We then went back and resected 4 mm more of the distal femur, but still had a tight extension and flexion gaps (Fig. 6). This could be explained by ossification of the joint capsule and loss of elasticity of the soft tissue envelope around the knee. We finally had to resect 4 mm more of tibia to get to equal flexion and extension space (Fig. 6) and correction of sagittal deformity up to 5°º (Fig. 7). Resecting 4 more mm of bone from the femur and the tibia was an unusual and surprising phenomenon of this surgical reconstruction as deformity was not significant. Knee replacement was done by the cemented posterior stabilized system (Legion®, Smith and Nephew, Memphis [TN], USA). The coronal femoral angle was corrected from 86.4° to 90.1° and the coronal tibial angle corrected from 85° to 89.5° postoperatively (Fig. 8). The Hip-Knee-Ankle (HKA) angle improved from 170.5° to179.6° postoperatively (Fig. 9). His knee society score improved from 34 points to 85 points, postoperatively. The functional score improved from 19 points to 80 points. Joint line elevation can be seen in comparative pre-operative and post-operative X-rays. 75 mg indomethacin was given daily for 6 weeks as prophylaxis for heterotopic calcification [11]. At final follow follow-up of one 1 year,the patient had 5 degree flexion deformity and up to 95° degree range of motion. Usually 5° flexion deformity resolves with rehabilitation, but in this case, it was resistant, which can be explained by the inability of soft tissues to stretch and accommodate to the prosthetic implants.

The main objective of this case report is to clearly delineate the clinical and radiological features of DISH at the knee joint and outline the principles and important steps to perform total knee arthroplasty (TKA) in case of DISH. DISH at knee joint should be differentiated from other causes of the stiff knee like such as inflammatory arthropathy, heterotrophic ossification, and post-traumatic arthrosis (Fig. 10). Inflammatory arthropathies have a female preponderance and are associated with synovial proliferation and regional osteopenia [12]. Upto 2 mm additional bone resection along with posterior soft tissue release usually corrects the flexion deformity associated with rheumatoid arthritis. These features should be differentiated from post head injury, or post-burn heterotrophic ossification where these are periarticular bony bridges across the joint unlike DISH where their ossification is in the soft tissues [13]. In post-traumatic arthrosis, implants and associated fibrosis may be the cause of stiffness and navigation may help in by passing the implant and perform TKA without the need to remove the implants [14]. DISH can be differentiated from other causes of stiffness by calcification in the supra and infrapatellar part of quadriceps expansion. There is ossification along with the collateral ligaments and spurring at the tibial insertion of the patellar tendon. Once the diagnosis of DISH is made at the knee, certain measures need to be followed to perform a successful TKA. DISH knee can be resistant to correction because of due to unyielding soft tissues. Upto 8 mm more bone, 4 mm each from femur and tibia may be required to be cut to achieve successful prosthetic implantation. This will elevate the joint line and cause patella baja and patellar maltracking [15]. In this case, the patellar button was superiorized and medialized to optimize patellar tracking. Moreover, a complete lateral release had to be performed because the ossification in quadriceps tendon and lateral retinaculum was causing lateral subluxation of the patella. Apart from +4mm of distal femur resection, posterior capsule was completely elevated from the posterior aspect of the femur to increase the extension space. Furthermore, postero-medial capsule was cut in extension with a laminar spreader in the extension space. All these measures helped to achieve extension of the knee up to 5°. The final arc of movement as shown by navigation was 5–95° flexion. To improve the flexion of the knee pie crusting of quadriceps tendon was done but the flexion was resistant to improvement. After all the measures, the final arc remained 5–95°. Supervised rehabilitation was advice to the patient but at one 1 year follow follow-up, the arc of knee motion remained unchanged from 5 to -95°. This is unusual as 5° flexion deformity usually resolves with physiotherapy but did not in this case because of due to periarticular and ligamentous ossification. Patient undergoing TKA for Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis should be prognosticated regarding possibility of decreased range of motion postoperatively as the soft tissue envelope loses its elasticity and ability to stretch because of enthesetic ossification. While performing knee replacement for DISH cautious prognostication should be done to the patient regarding possibility of decreased flexion after arthroplasty as the soft tissue envelope loses its elasticity and ability to stretch because of enthesetic ossification. Current controversies and future considerations: Little is known about the etio-pathogenesis, genetic basis, therapeutic approach, progression of spinal, and extra-spinal manifestation of DISH. Furthermore, the classification system tends to classify the disease at a later stage, hence making it difficult for any therapeutic modality to influence the progression of the disease. Current efforts and researches are directed towards finding a genetic link to DISH, developing a new classification to identify the patients at an early stage and development of novel targeted therapies.

DISH at the knee is likely to present with stiffness due to ossification of ligaments and the joint capsule. While performing TKA, more bone resection will be required both from the femur and tibia as the soft tissues have limited ability to stretch and accommodate the implants. The aim should be to fully correct the fixed flexion deformity during surgery as calcified soft tissue provides a minimal window for correction with rehabilitation.

Clinical Message
Suspect DISH in a case presenting with stiff knee and enthesophytes along with quadriceps tendon calcification. Extensive soft tissue release and additional bone resection may be required from both femur and tibia to achieve extension. The patient should be counseled regarding the limited range of motion after TKA due to unpliable nature of soft tissue envelope.

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Dr. Anoop Jhurani  Dr. Piyush Agarwal   Dr. Mukesh Aswal Dr. Vishal Gupta 

How to Cite This Article: Jhurani A, Agarwal P, Aswal M, Gupta V. Total knee arthroplasty in a case of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis; challenges in ligament balancing and deformity correction. Journal of Orthopaedic Case Reports 2019 May-June; 9(3): 34-38.

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