Primary Osteoarthritic Knees Have More Varus Coronal Alignment of the Femur Compared to Young Non-Arthritic Knees in a Large Cohort Study

Purpose: Many surgeons are performing total knee arthroplasty (TKA) with an aim to reproducing native anatomical coronal alignment. Yet, it remains unclear if primary osteoarthritic and non-osteoarthritic populations have similar knee coronal alignment. This study aims to describe and compare the distribution of femoral and tibial coronal alignment in a large primary osteoarthritic cohort and a young non-osteoarthritic cohort.

Methods: This is a retrospective analysis of a monocentric prospectively gathered data, from 1990 to 2019, of 2859 consecutive primary osteoarthritic knees in 2279 patients. Patients underwent standardized long-leg radiographs. Femoral mechanical angle (FMA) and tibial mechanical angle (TMA) were digitally measured using software. Femoral, tibial and knee phenotypes were analyzed, and descriptive data were reported. Data were compared to a young non-osteoarthritic population previously described.

Results: In osteoarthritic knees, the mean FMA was 91° ± 2.9° (range 86°-100°) and the mean TMA was 87° ± 3.1° (range 80°-94°). No significant difference was observed for FMA and TMA between genders. The most common femoral and tibial phenotypes were varus (38.7%) and neutral (37.1%). The most frequent knee phenotype was a varus femoral phenotype with a neutral tibial phenotype (15.5%), which is different to the non-osteoarthritic population.

Conclusion: This study showed the wide distribution of knee phenotypes in a large osteoarthritic cohort. There was more varus distribution of the femoral coronal alignment compared to a non-osteoarthritic population, suggesting consideration and potential adaptation of the realignment strategy of the femoral component during TKA.

Level of evidence: III.

Keywords: Alignment; Femoral mechanical angle; Knee; Osteoarthrosis; Phenotype; Tibial mechanical angle.