Alignment options for total knee arthroplasty: A systematic review

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2017 Nov;103(7):1047-1056. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2017.07.010. Epub 2017 Aug 31.


In spite of improvements in implant designs and surgical precision, functional outcomes of mechanically aligned total knee arthroplasty (MA TKA) have plateaued. This suggests probable technical intrinsic limitations that few alternate more anatomical recently promoted surgical techniques are trying to solve. This review aims at (1) classifying the different options to frontally align TKA implants, (2) at comparing their safety and efficacy with the one from MA TKAs, therefore answering the following questions: does alternative techniques to position TKA improve functional outcomes of TKA (question 1)? Is there any pathoanatomy not suitable for kinematic implantation of a TKA (question 2)? A systematic review of the existing literature utilizing PubMed and Google Scholar search engines was performed in February 2017. Only studies published in peer-reviewed journals over the last ten years in either English or French were reviewed. We identified 569 reports, of which 13 met our eligibility criteria. Four alternative techniques to position a TKA are challenging the traditional MA technique: anatomic (AA), adjusted mechanical (aMA), kinematic (KA), and restricted kinematic (rKA) alignment techniques. Regarding osteoarthritic patients with slight to mid constitutional knee frontal deformity, the KA technique enables a faster recovery and generally generates higher functional TKA outcomes than the MA technique. Kinematic alignment for TKA is a new attractive technique for TKA at early to mid-term, but need longer follow-up in order to assess its true value. It is probable that some forms of pathoanatomy might affect longer-term clinical outcomes of KA TKA and make the rKA technique or additional surgical corrections (realignment osteotomy, retinacular ligament reconstruction etc.) relevant for this sub-group of patients. Longer follow-up is needed to define the best indication of each alternative surgical technique for TKA. Level I for question 1 (systematic review of Level I studies), level 4 for question 2.

Keywords: Adjusted technique; Alignment; Anatomic alignment; Kinematic alignment; Restricted technique; TKA.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / instrumentation
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / methods*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Knee Prosthesis