Periprosthetic Fractures Through Tracking Pin Sites Following Computer Navigated and Robotic Total and Unicompartmental Knee Arthroplasty: A Systematic Review.

Document Type


Publication Date



BACKGROUND: Use of computer-assisted navigation (CAN) and robotic-assisted (RA) surgery in total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) both necessitate the use of tracking pins rigidly fixed to the femur and tibia. Although periprosthetic fractures through tracking pin sites are rare, there is a paucity of literature on this potential complication. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review of the current literature to assess the incidence and clinical outcomes of periprosthetic fractures through tracking pin sites following CAN and RA TKA and UKA.

METHODS: A systematic review was performed following PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines using the PubMed, MEDLINE, and Cochrane databases in April 2020. Studies were assessed for the presence of pin site fractures, fracture characteristics, and clinical outcomes.

RESULTS: Seventeen clinical studies (5 case series, 1 cohort study, and 11 case reports) involving 29 pin-related fractures were included for review. The overall incidence ranged from 0.06% to 4.8%. The mean time from index arthroplasty to fracture was 9.5 weeks (range, 0 to 40 weeks). The majority of fractures occurred in the femoral diaphysis (59%). Nineteen fractures (66%) were displaced and 10 (34%) were nondisplaced or occult. The majority of cases were atraumatic in nature or involved minor trauma and were typically preceded by persistent leg pain. A transcortical pin trajectory, large pin diameter (>4 mm), diaphyseal fixation, multiple placement attempts, and the use of non-self-drilling, non-self-tapping pins were the most commonly reported risk factors for pin-related periprosthetic fractures following CAN or RA TKA.

CONCLUSIONS: Surgeons should maintain a high index of suspicion for pin-related fractures in patients with ongoing leg or thigh pain after CAN or RA TKA in order to avoid fracture displacement and additional morbidity. As CAN and RA TKA have unique complication risks, the debate regarding the value of technology-assisted TKA and its cost-effectiveness continues.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.


This article was published in JBJS Reviews, Volume 9, Issue 1.

The published version is available at

Copyright © 2020 The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated.

Publication Title

JBJS Reviews

PubMed ID


This document is currently not available here.