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Clinical biomechanics of instability related to total knee arthroplasty

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nicola Hunt, Professor David Deehan


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Background: Tibiofemoral instability is a common reason for total knee arthroplasty failure, and may be attributed to soft tissue deficiency and incorrect ligament balancing. There are many different designs of implant with varying levels of constraint to overcome this instability; however there is little advice for surgeons to assess which is suitable for a specific patient, and soft tissue balance testing during arthroplasty is very subjective. Method: The current theories on primary and secondary soft tissue restraints to anterior/posterior, varus/valgus, and internal/external rotational motion of the knee are discussed. The paper reviews biomechanics literature to evaluate instability in the intact and implanted knee. Findings: The paper highlights important intra- and extra-capsular structures in the knee and describes the techniques used by clinicians to assess instability perioperatively. In vitro cadaveric studies were found to be a very useful tool in comparing different implants and contributions of different soft tissues. Interpretation: In vitro cadaveric studies can be utilised in helping less experienced surgeons with soft tissue releases and determining the correct implant. For this to happen, more biomechanical studies must be done to show the impact of release sequences on implanted cadavers, as well as determining if increasingly constrained implants restore the stability of the knee to pre-deficient conditions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Athwal KK, Hunt NC, Davies AJ, Deehan DJ, Amis AA

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Biomechanics

Year: 2014

Volume: 29

Issue: 2

Pages: 119-128

Print publication date: 05/11/2013

ISSN (print): 0268-0033

ISSN (electronic): 1879-1271


DOI: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2013.11.004