Objectives: Elevated proximal tibial bone strain may cause unexplained pain, an important cause of unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) revision. This study investigates the effect of tibial component alignment in metal-backed (MB) and all-polyethylene (AP) fixed-bearing medial UKAs on bone strain, using an experimentally validated finite element model (FEM).
Methods: A previously experimentally validated FEM of a composite tibia implanted with a cemented fixed-bearing UKA (MB and AP) was used. Standard alignment (medial proximal tibial angle 90°, 6° posterior slope), coronal malalignment (3°, 5°, 10° varus; 3°, 5° valgus), and sagittal malalignment (0°, 3°, 6°, 9°, 12°) were analyzed. The primary outcome measure was the volume of compressively overstrained cancellous bone (VOCB) < -3000 µε. The secondary outcome measure was maximum von Mises stress in cortical bone (MSCB) over a medial region of interest.
Results: Varus malalignment decreased VOCB but increased MSCB in both implants, more so in the AP implant. Varus malalignment of 10° reduced the VOCB by 10% and 3% in AP and MB implants but increased the MSCB by 14% and 13%, respectively. Valgus malalignment of 5° increased the VOCB by 8% and 4% in AP and MB implants, with reductions in MSCB of 7% and 10%, respectively. Sagittal malalignment displayed negligible effects. Well-aligned AP implants displayed greater VOCB than malaligned MB implants.
Conclusion: All-polyethylene implants are more sensitive to coronal plane malalignments than MB implants are; varus malalignment reduced cancellous bone strain but increased anteromedial cortical bone stress. Sagittal plane malalignment has a negligible effect on bone strain.Cite this article: I. Danese, P. Pankaj, C. E. H. Scott. The effect of malalignment on proximal tibial strain in fixed-bearing unicompartmental knee arthroplasty: A comparison between metal-backed and all-polyethylene components using a validated finite element model. Bone Joint Res 2019;8:55-64. DOI: 10.1302/2046-3758.82.BJR-2018-0186.R2.
Keywords: Bone strain; Finite element analysis; Malalignment; Unicompartmental knee arthroplasty.