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BACKGROUND: Spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee (SONK) is a distinct clinical condition occurring in patients without any associated risk factors. There is controversy as to the best method of treatment, and the available literature would suggest that patients with SONK have a worse outcome than those with primary osteoarthrosis when arthroplasty is performed. We assessed the outcome of medial unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) using the Oxford prosthesis for end-stage focal spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee (SONK; Ahlbäck grades III and IV). PATIENTS AND METHODS: We assessed 29 knees (27 patients) with spontaneous osteonecrosis of the knee using the Oxford Knee Score. 26 knees had osteonecrosis of the medial femoral condyle and 3 had osteonecrosis of the medial tibial plateau. All had been operated on using the Oxford Medial Unicompartmental Knee Arthroplasty (UKA). This group was compared to a similar group (28 knees, 26 patients) who had undergone the same arthroplasty, but because of primary osteoarthrosis. Patients were matched for age, sex and time since operation. The mean length of follow-up was 5 (1-13) years. RESULTS: There were no implant failures in either group, but there was 1 death (from unrelated causes) 9 months after arthroplasty in the group with osteonecrosis. The mean Oxford Knee Score in the group with osteonecrosis was 38, and it was 40 in the group with osteoarthrosis. INTERPRETATION: Use of the Oxford Medial UKA for spontaneous focal osteonecrosis of the knee is reliable in the short to medium term, and gives results similar to those obtained when it is used for patients with primary osteoarthrosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Orthop

Publication Date





688 - 692


Aged, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Knee Joint, Knee Prosthesis, Male, Middle Aged, Osteonecrosis, Radiography, Treatment Outcome