Background: In kinematic alignment in TKA, the aim is to match the implant's position to the pre-arthritic anatomy of an individual patient, in contrast to the traditional goal of neutral mechanical alignment. However, there are limited mid-term, comparative data for survivorship and functional outcomes for these two techniques.
Questions/purposes: In the setting of a randomized, controlled trial at 5 years, is there a difference between kinematic alignment and mechanical alignment in TKA in terms of (1) patient-reported outcome measures, (2) survivorship free from revision or reoperation, and (3) the incidence of radiographic aseptic loosening?
Methods: In the initial study, 99 primary TKAs for osteoarthritis were randomized to either the mechanical alignment (n = 50) or kinematic alignment (n = 49) group. Computer navigation was used in the mechanical alignment group, and patient-specific cutting blocks were used in the kinematic alignment group. At 5 years, 95% (48 of 50) of mechanical alignment and 96% (47 of 49) of kinematic alignment TKAs were available for follow-up. Knee function was assessed using the Knee Society Score (KSS), VAS, Oxford Knee Score (OKS), WOMAC, Forgotten Joint Score (FJS) and EuroQol 5D. Survivorship free from reoperation (any reason) and revision (change or addition of any component) was determined via Kaplan-Meier analysis. Radiographs were assessed for signs of aseptic loosening (as defined by the presence of progressive radiolucent lines in two or more zones) by a single blinded observer.
Results: At 5 years, there were no differences in any patient-reported outcome measure between the two groups. For example, the mean OKS did not differ between the two groups (kinematic alignment: 41.4 ± 7.2 versus mechanical alignment: 41.7 ± 6.3; difference -0.3 [95% confidence interval - 3.2 to 2.5]; p = 0.99). At 5 years, survivorship free from reoperation was 92.2 (95% CI 80.4 to 97.0) for mechanical alignment and 89.7 (95% CI 77.0 to 95.6) for kinematic alignment (log rank test; p = 0.674), survivorship free from revision was 94.1 (95% CI 82.9 to 98.1) for mechanical alignment and 95.9 (95% CI 84.5 to 99.0) for kinematic alignment (log rank test; p = 0.681). At 5 years, one patient demonstrated radiographic aseptic loosening for the mechanical alignment group; no cases were identified for the kinematic alignment group.
Conclusions: We found no mid-term functional or radiographic differences between TKAs with mechanical alignment or kinematic alignment. The anticipated improvements in patient-reported outcomes with kinematic alignment were not realized. Because kinematic alignment results in a high proportion of patients whose tibial components are inserted in varus, loosening remains a potential long-term concern. Given the unknown impact on long-term survivorship of the substantial alignment alterations with kinematic alignment, our findings do not support the routine use of kinematic alignment outside of a research setting.
Level of evidence: Level I, therapeutic study.