The Knee, ISSN: 1873-5800, Vol: 19, Issue: 5, Page: 560-3

Effect of tibial component varus on wear in total knee arthroplasty

Srivastava, Ajay; Lee, Gregory Y.; Steklov, Nikolai; Colwell, Clifford W.; Ezzet, Kace A.; D'Lima, Darryl D.


Malalignment can result in poor clinical outcomes and increased wear. However, component malalignment can occur even when overall limb mechanical axis is within the normal anatomic range. We studied the effect of component malalignment in the presence of acceptable knee alignment in knee arthroplasty.


Sixteen tibial inserts retrieved at revision surgery were laser-mapped to measure wear. Average implantation duration was 7.7 years (range, 1 to 13). Early (postprimary) and final (prerevision) radiographs were analyzed for overall alignment (limb, femoral and tibial components) and osteolysis.


The tibial components were initially aligned in a mean of 1.3 ± 1.7° varus (range, –1.5 to 4.5°), which increased to 3.2 ± 2.9° (range, –2.0 to 8.0°) at the time of revision (p = 0.05). Tibial components initially placed in greater than 3° varus were associated with almost twice the volumetric penetration rate. Anatomic knee angles were 5.4 ± 0.9° valgus (range, 4.0 to 7.0°) in the post-primary radiographs and decreased in prerevision radiographs to 3.8 ± 2.6° (range, –1.0 to 7.5°), (p = 0.04).


Tibial varus was associated with increased medial compartment wear and total wear, thus affecting osteolysis in addition to local destruction of the bearing surface. Varus malalignment as low as 3° may result in accelerated wear, even if overall limb alignment is nearly ideal. These results indicate that tibial component alignment is an important factor associated with tibial tray subsidence and polyethylene wear even when limb alignment is neutral.

Download article