The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 34, Issue 6, 1261 - 1266

Relationship Between Ligament Forces and Contact Forces in Balancing at Total Knee Surgery

Sanz-Pena, Inigo et al.


Spacer blocks, tensors, or instrumented tibial trials are current methods of balancing the knee during surgery but there are no current techniques for measuring ligament forces. Our goal was to study the relationship between the collateral ligament forces and the condylar contact forces to determine whether there was equivalence.


A test rig was constructed modeling an artificial knee joint with collateral ligaments. The ligament forces as well as the lateral and medial tibial contact forces were measured during flexion for different positions of the femoral component on the femur, producing a set of forces for the simulated conditions. A regression analysis was used to study the correlation between the ligament and contact forces.


The combined medial and lateral ligament and contact forces showed a linear relation with a correlation coefficient of 0.98. For the medial and lateral sides separately, the correlations were 0.85 and 0.88, respectively, with more than 80% of points within a ±25% deviation from the linear relations. This deviation from the linear correlation is linked to differences in medial-lateral femoral-tibial contact point locations at different flexion angles.


Within balancing accuracies generally achieved at surgery, the collateral ligament forces were linearly correlated to the condylar contact forces. These forces can also be equally correlated to the distraction forces as well as the moments at which condylar liftoff would occur from varus-valgus moments. This indicated a unification of the different balancing parameters, and hence such quantitative methods can be used interchangeably.

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