Background: Occasionally, patients experience new or increased ankle pain following total knee arthroplasty (TKA). The aims of this study were to determine (1) how the correction of varus malalignment of the lower limb following TKA affected changes in alignment of the ankle and hindfoot, (2) the difference in changes in alignment of the ankle and hindfoot between patients with and without ankle osteoarthritis (OA), and (3) whether the rate of ankle pain and the clinical outcome following TKA differed between the 2 groups.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed prospectively collected data of 56 patients (99 knees) treated with TKA. Among these cases, concomitant ankle OA was found in 24 ankles. Radiographic parameters of lower-limb, ankle, and hindfoot alignment were measured preoperatively and 2 years postoperatively. In addition, ankle pain and clinical outcome 2 years after TKA were compared between patients with and without ankle OA.
Results: The orientation of the ankle joint line relative to the ground improved from 9.4° of varus to 3.4° of varus, and the valgus compensation of the hindfoot for the varus tilt of the ankle joint showed a 2.2° decrease following TKA. Patients in the group with ankle OA showed decreased flexibility of the hindfoot resulting in less preoperative valgus compensation (p = 0.022) compared with the group without ankle OA. The postoperative hindfoot alignment was similar between the 2 groups because of the smaller amount of change in patients with ankle OA. The group with ankle OA had a higher rate of increased ankle pain (38% compared with 16%) as well as a worse Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) score (mean of 22.2 compared with 14.2) following TKA.
Conclusions: A considerable proportion of patients who underwent TKA had concomitant ankle OA with reduced flexibility of the hindfoot. These patients experienced increased ankle pain following TKA and a worse clinical outcome.
Level of evidence: Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.