Introduction: The purpose of this study was to determine talar movement (e.g., talar rotation and talar shift during (dorsiflexion/plantarflexion) with respect to the tibia in the normal ankle, in the fused ankle, and in the replaced ankle by currently used prosthetic designs.
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 cadaveri leg specimens. While moving the foot through the whole range of motion for plantarflexion/dorsiflexion, segmental motion of the marked bones of the foot and shank were measured dynamically. Rotation and medial-lateral shift of the talus were then calculated with regard to flexion position of the foot.
Results: In the normal ankle, plantarflexion movement was coupled with talar inversion of 3.5 degrees, and dorsiflexion movement with talar eversion of 1.0 degree, in totally accounting for 4.5 degrees of talar rotation. While both the HINTEGRA and the S.T.A.R. prostheses did not show changes to the normal condition during the dorsiflexion/plantarflexion cycle (p < .05), talar rotation had a 60% decrease (p < .05) for the AGILITY prosthesis. In the normal ankle joint, a lateral talar shift of 1.4 mm was found to occur during dorsiflexion, and a lateral talar shift of 5.2 mm during plantarflexion. In both, the HINTEGRA and S.T.A.R. ankles, talar shift was converted into medial direction during dorsiflexion of the foot (difference to normal: p < .05), whereas talar shift in the lateral direction was found to occur during plantarflexion of the foot which was comparable to the normal ankle. The AGILITY ankle evidenced an 80% decrease of talar shift (p < .05) during the whole dorsiflexion/plantarflexion cycle.
Discussion: The two-component ankle (AGILITY) obviously tends to restrict tremendously talar motion within the ankle mortise, whereas the three-component ankles (HINTEGRA, S.T.A.R.) seem to allow talar range of motion comparable to that in the normal ankle. It is suggested that such a restriction of talar motion results in an increase of stress forces within and around the prosthesis, leading to polyethylene wear and potential loosening at the bone-implant interfaces. Therefore, a successful prosthetic design for the ankle should consist of three components that are shaped as anatomically as possible to provide a normal range of motion and to allow the full transmission of movement transfer between foot and shank and unconstrained movement of the talus within the ankle mortise.