Introduction: The purpose of this in vitro study was to determine the biomechanical characteristics of the ankle based on the movement transfer between foot and leg before and after ankle arthrodesis, and after implantation of three currently used total ankle prostheses.
Methods: A 6-df device with an axial load of 200 N and a four-camera high-speed video system were used for the measurement of the range of motion in six fresh-frozen cadaveric leg specimens. While the foot was moved through the range of dorsiflexion/plantarflexion, the resulting foot eversion/inversion and tibial rotation were recorded. Analogously, the resulting foot eversion/inversion from tibial rotation and, vice versa, the resulting tibial rotation from foot eversion/inversion were determined. The same measurements were performed for the normal ankle, the fused ankle, and after total ankle replacement by the AGILITY, HINTEGRA, and S.T.A.R. prostheses.
Results: While in dorsiflexion/plantarflexion of the foot, ankle joint fusion increased the movement transfer to tibial rotation by a 2.4 factor and to eversion/inversion by a 18.5 factor, whereas, this movement transfer did not change for all prostheses conditions. The movement transfer between foot eversion and tibial rotation was found to decrease for all ankle prostheses, but more in the AGILITY and S.T.A.R. prosthesis than in the HINTEGRA.
Conclusions: The three tested ankle joint prostheses changed the movement transferred within the ankle joint complex less than ankle fusion did, especially for dorsiflexion/plantarflexion movement of the foot. The closer the design was to the normal anatomy of the ankle, the closer the transfer of movement was shown to be replicated with respect to normal joint. It is suggested that success of total ankle arthroplasty depends on how successfully designs can mimic the movement transfer of the normal ankle, while dissipating the rotational forces and maintaining the stability of the joint.