The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 9 , 3030 - 3037

Computed Tomography Techniques Help Understand Wear Patterns in Retrieved Total Knee Arthroplasty

Cerquiglini, Arianna et al.


Suboptimal total knee arthroplasty (TKA) position of both femoral and tibial components is thought to be linked with poor clinical outcomes, polyethylene wear and the “unexplained” painful knee arthroplasty. The aim of this study was to better understand the effect of implant orientation on knee implant performance.


We analyzed 30 retrieved contemporary TKA implants. Implant positioning measurements in the coronal plane were made prior to revision using a diagnostic algorithm, based on 3D computed tomography (CT) images. Each retrieved polyethylene component was imaged using a micro-CT scanner and a high resolution computational 3D model of each component was digitally reconstructed. The difference in thickness between medial and lateral components was calculated. Statistical analysis was performed to investigate the association between component positioning and damage patterns.


We found a significant correlation between both the tibiofemoral and femoral angles and difference in thickness between polyethylene compartments: varus angulations were strongly associated with thinner medial compartments, whilst valgus angulations were associated with thinner lateral compartments. Moreover, suboptimal tibiofemoral orientations and tibial component angulations were associated to greater differences in thickness between polyethylene compartments.


Our study is the first to compare accurate 3D CT measurements of prerevision TKA positioning in the coronal plane with postrevision retrieval analysis from innovative, accurate and highly reliable micro-CT–based method. Our results demonstrate the impact of component positioning on polyethylene damage and helps understanding of the in vivo performance of these implants.

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