Mechanically aligned (MA) total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is affected by disappointing functional outcomes in spite of the recent improvements in surgical precision and implant designs. This might suggest the existence of intrinsic technical limitations. Our study aims to compare the prosthetic and native trochlear articular surfaces and to estimate the extent of collateral ligament imbalance, which is technically uncorrectable by collateral ligament release when TKA implants are mechanically aligned.
Conventional MA technique generates a high rate of prosthetic overstuffing of the distal groove, distal lateral trochlear facet and distal lateral femoral condyle (Hypothesis 1), and technically uncorrectable collateral ligament imbalance (hypothesis 2)? Disregarding the distal femoral joint line obliquity (DFJLO) when performing femoral cuts explains distal lateral femoral prosthetic stuffing and uncorrectable imbalance (hypothesis 3)?
Twenty patients underwent a conventional MA TKA. Pre-operative MRI-based 3D knee models were generated and MA TKA was simulated. Native and prosthetic trochlear articular surfaces were compared using in-house analysis software. Following the automatic determination by the planning software of the size of the extension and flexion gaps, an algorithm was applied to balance the gaps and the frequency and amplitude of technically uncorrectable knee imbalance were estimated.
The conventional MA technique generates a significant slight distal lateral femoral prosthetic overstuffing (mean 0.6mm, 0.8mm, 1.25mm for the most distal lateral facet point, groove, and at the most distal point of lateral femoral condyle, respectively) and a high rate of type 1 and 2 uncorrectable knee imbalance (30% and 40%, respectively). The incidence of distal lateral prosthetic overstuffing (trochlea and condyle) and uncorrectable knee imbalance were strongly to very strongly correlated with the DFJLO (r=0.53 to 0.89).
Conventional MA technique for TKA generates frequent lateral distal femoral prosthetic overstuffing and technically uncorrectable knee imbalance secondary to disregarding the DFJLO when adjusting the femoral component frontal and axial rotations, respectively.
Level of evidence
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Keywords : Total knee replacement, Mechanical alignment, Imbalance, Laxity, Trochlea facet, Retinacula ligament, Stuffing