The Knee, ISSN: 0968-0160, Vol: 28, Page: 319-325

Postoperative alignment in revision total knee arthroplasty, a comparison between intra and extra-medullary tibial alignment

Chapleau, Julien; Sullivan, Thomas; Lambert, Bradley; Clyburn, Terry A; Incavo, Stephen J


  • High frequency of bowed tibias are seen in revision knee arthroplasty.
  • Long diaphyseal-engaging stems are at risk of creating valgus malalignment.
  • Short stems and extra-medullary technique produce a more physiologic alignment.
  • Both techniques are equally reliable and have the same amount of outliers.



Revision total knee arthroplasty commonly involves stemmed components. If the diaphysis is engaged, this technique may be problematic for mechanical alignment (MA) in cases of tibial bowing, which are not infrequent (up to 30%).
The aim of this study is to compare an intra-medullary(IM) and extra-medullary(EM) alignment method. We hypothesized that IM technique and canal-filling stems may result more frequently in valgus MA. On the other hand, an EM technique could produce less valgus knees but is at risk of creating MA outliers.


A retrospective radiographic analysis of revision TKAs was performed. The patients were divided to either the EM or IM alignment group and compared on the overall post-operative MA. The following parameters were measured on standing, long leg x-rays: Hip-knee-Ankle angle (HKA), mechanical lateral distal femoral angle and mechanical medial proximal tibial angle (mMPTA).


119 cases of revision TKAs were included (EM = 80, IM = 39). There was a difference between the EM and IM group for the mean mMPTA (89.94° vs 90.92°, effect size = 0.45, p = 0.013) and HKA angle (1.64° vs 0.05°, effect size = 0.52, p = 0.0064). A higher proportion of IM patients were in overall valgus alignment (16/39, 41%) vs EM group (16/80, 20%, p = 0.0134). Both techniques showed the same proportion of outliers, defined as HKA angle more than 5 degrees from neutral mechanical alignment (11/80 vs 5/39, p = 0.286).


The extra-medullary alignment method with short cemented stems creates less valgus mechanical alignment than the intra-medullary technique with press-fit stems, without creating more MA outliers.

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