Knee or Spine Surgery First? A survey of treatment order for
Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and lumbar spine surgery have been reported to affect the outcomes of each other. There is insufficient evidence to guide the choice of treatment order for patients with both disorders that are equally symptomatic.
Five clinical scenarios of concurrent, advanced, degenerative knee and lumbar spinal disorders were designed to survey surgeons’ choices of treatment order and rationale. The spinal disorder was consistently degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis, but the knee conditions varied to include osteoarthritis (OA) with varus deformity, OA with valgus deformity, rheumatoid arthritis with a severe flexion contracture, OA without deformity, and bilateral OA with windswept deformities. The survey was distributed to selected clinical members of the Knee Society and Scoliosis Research Society in North America. The surgeons’ choices were compared among the five scenarios, and their comments were analyzed using text-mining.
Responses were received from knee arthroplasty surgeons and spine surgeons. The percentages of knee arthroplasty surgeons recommending “TKA first”. A similar pattern was noted for the spine surgeons.

Conclusively, for patients with concurrent degenerative knee and lumbar spinal disorders, the severity and type of knee deformity influenced the preference of treatment order in both specialties. Severe valgus deformity and windswept deformities of the knee would drive the decision towards “TKA first.”