The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 10 , 3304 - 3312

Lower Extremity Geometry in Morbid Obesity—Considerations for Total Knee Arthroplasty

Elkins, Jacob M. et al.


Obesity has been associated with varying adverse outcomes related to total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and has long been associated with various mechanical complications. Computational modeling holds promise for investigating biomechanical aberrations related to TKA in obese patients. However, basic anthropometric information regarding the shape of the lower extremity in obese patients is lacking. We, therefore, developed a method to determine lower extremity shape both generally and subject specific as a function of body mass index (BMI) and sex.


A unique set of 4 radiographs (knee anteroposterior/lateral; EOS long-leg alignment anteroposterior/lateral) were reviewed for patients with BMI exceeding 30 kg/m2 before undergoing TKA. Soft tissue thickness in both the coronal and sagittal planes, including anterior adipose tissue thickness overlying the tibial tubercle and patella, was measured. Elliptical parameters were then determined for any distance along the lower extremity. Additional measurements were obtained, including prepatellar thickness and pretubercular thickness and anteroposterior and mediolateral dimensions of the proximal tibia. A total of 232 obese subjects were analyzed.


Girth increased as a function of BMI. Anterior prepatellar and pretubercular subcutaneous fat thickness in females exceeded that in males for all values of BMI. Wide variation was seen with regard to overall patterns of adiposity among same-sex subjects with similar BMI. Proximal tibial osseous dimensions did not demonstrate an association with BMI; however, males were found to have deeper and wider tibias compared with females.


BMI and sex influence lower extremity shape. The prediction algorithms developed here holds implications for future biomechanical studies of TKA in obese patients.

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