Assessment of the Radii of the Medial and Lateral Femoral Condyles in Varus and Valgus Knees with Osteoarthritis

Howell, Stephen M.; Howell, Stacey J.; Hull, Maury L.
January 2010
Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, American Volume;Jan2010, Vol. 92-A Issue 1, p98
Academic Journal
Background: Understanding the relationship between the radii of the medial and lateral femoral condyles in varus and valgus knees is important for aligning the femoral component and for restoring kinematics in total knee arthroplasty. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that the asymmetry between the radii of the medial and lateral femoral condyles in varus and valgus knees with osteoarthritis is small enough to be clinically unimportant. Methods: A magnetic resonance imaging scan was obtained with use of a biplanar, rotational alignment protocol in a consecutive series of subjects with end-stage osteoarthritis prior to total knee arthroplasty. The alignment protocol oriented the scanning plane so that both condyles were imaged in a plane perpendicular to the primary femoral axis of the knee about which the tibia flexes and extends. The study included 155 varus knees and forty-four valgus knees. Radii were calculated from the area of the best-fit circle overlaid from 10° to 160° on the subchondral corticocancellous bone interface of the medial and lateral femoral condyles. The radius of a condyle was the average of the radii on four adjacent images that showed the femoral condyle with the largest curvature. Results: In the 155 varus knees, the radius of the lateral condyle was an average of 0.1 mm larger than that of the medial condyle (p = 0.003). In the forty-four valgus knees, the radius of the lateral condyle was an average of 0.2 mm larger than that of the medial condyle (p < 0.006). There was a strong association between the radii of the medial and lateral femoral condyles in both the varus (r² = 0.9210) and the valgus (r² = 0.9129) knees. Conclusions: As determined by imaging of the femoral condyles perpendicular to the primary femoral axis of the knee, the asymmetry between the radii of the medial and lateral femoral condyles in varus and valgus knees with end-stage osteoarthritis was ≤0.2 mm, which is small enough to be considered clinically unimportant when aligning a total knee prosthesis.


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