Tibiofemoral instability is one reason for early revision of total knee arthroplasty. It can be the consequence of tibiofemoral laxity, especially in the coronal plane with tibiofemoral lift-off. But does femoral condyle lift-off on conventional postoperative radiographs suggest the presence of laxity or potential instability? To our knowledge, this question has not yet been answered. This led us to conduct a retrospective study to evaluate (1) the frequency of lift-off on postoperative radiographs, (2) the relationship between lift-off and laxity in the short term and (3) the functional consequences of lift-off.
Postoperative lift-off is a rare event that is predictive of laxity.
We carried out a single-center retrospective study using postoperative radiographs from patients who underwent primary total knee arthroplasty between 2014 and 2016. The sample consisted of 906 patients. Lift-off was defined as a tibiofemoral angle of 3° or more on immediate postoperative radiographs (day 0) that were non-weightbearing and had no stress applied. The functional outcomes were determined in the 17 patients identified as having lift-off who had been operated in the first year (2014) to ensure the follow-up was long enough. These patients were compared to 34 matched control patients who were operated the same year and chosen randomly among patients not having lift-off. The matching ratio was 2 controls to 1 case. Preoperative and surgical data were compiled from each patient's electronic medical record. Patients were evaluated at 4 years postoperatively using the subjective Oxford-48, objective HSS score, IKS score, overall patient satisfaction and stress radiographs of the knee. The cases of lift-off observed in 2014 (n=17) were paired with a control group of patients selected randomly during 2014.
The frequency of the lift-off event was 63/906 or 7%. The frequency was consistent over the three years studied: 7.1% in 2014 (19/269), 6.2% in 2015 (22/354) and 7.8% in 2016 (22/283). There was no significant difference between the two groups (17 with lift-off and 34 without) in the sex, age, body mass index and coronal plane deformity (preoperative HKA angle). At a mean follow-up of 4 years (range 12–49 months), the knees with postoperative lift-off had more laxity (p=0.002), particularly laxity when varus stress was applied (p=0.009). There were no other significant differences in the outcomes.
Immediate postoperative lift-off after total knee arthroplasty is not a rare event, with a 7% frequency in our study. While it reveals that laxity is present in the particular compartment, there is no evidence of functional consequences at 4 years’ follow-up; however, a long-term assessment is required to verify this finding.
Level of evidence
III – case-control study.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Total knee arthroplasty, Lift-off, Laxity