The Journal Of Bone And Joint Surgery - Volume 97 - Issue 20 - p. 1678-1684

Native Knee Laxities at 0°, 45°, and 90° of Flexion and Their Relationship to the Goal of the Gap-Balancing Alignment Method of Total Knee Arthroplasty

Roth Joshua D., MS; Howell Stephen M., MD; Hull Maury L., PhD
Background: Gap-balancing is an alignment method for total knee arthroplasty with the goal of creating uniform tension in the periarticular soft-tissue restraints and equal laxities throughout the arc of flexion. However, there is little evidence that achieving equal laxities prevents either overly tight or overly loose soft-tissue restraints after total knee arthroplasty. Accordingly, the purpose of the present study was to determine whether the laxities at 0°, 45°, and 90° of flexion are equal in the native knee.
Methods: Seven different laxities were measured at 0°, 45°, and 90° of flexion in ten fresh-frozen native cadaveric knees (with intact menisci, cartilage, and ligaments) by applying loads of ±5 Nm in varus-valgus rotation, ±3 Nm in internal-external rotation, 100 N in distraction, and ±45 N in anterior-posterior translation with use of a six-degrees-of-freedom load application system.
Results: The mean laxities (and standard deviations) at 45° of flexion were 1.7° ± 0.6° greater in varus, 0.9° ± 0.4° greater in valgus, 10.2° ± 2.7° greater in internal rotation, 10.1° ± 2.0° greater in external rotation, 1.7 ± 1.0 mm greater in distraction translation, and 3.3 ± 1.5 mm greater in anterior translation than those at 0° of flexion. The mean laxities at 90° of flexion were 2.5° ± 0.8° greater in varus, 1.0° ± 0.5° greater in valgus, 10.0° ± 4.6° greater in internal rotation, 10.1° ± 4.5° greater in external rotation, 1.8 ± 0.7 mm greater in distraction, and 1.6 ± 1.2 mm greater in anterior translation than those at 0° of flexion. The mean anterior translation at 90° of flexion was 1.7 ± 0.9 mm less than that at 45° of flexion.
Conclusions: Because five of the seven laxities were at least 1.7° or 1.6 mm greater at both 45° and 90° of flexion than those at 0° of flexion, the laxities of the native knee measured in this study are unequal at these flexion angles and therefore do not support the goal of gap-balancing in total knee arthroplasty.
Clinical Relevance: One possible disadvantage of changing the native laxities at 45° and 90° of flexion to match those at 0° of flexion in a total knee arthroplasty is the overly tight soft-tissue restraints relative to those of the native knee, which patients may perceive as pain, stiffness, and/or limited flexion.

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