Trial Tibial Inserts May Result in Different Knee Kinematics from Final Poly Inserts in Total Knee Arthroplasty

Orthop Res Rev. 2021 Jun 28:13:81-88. doi: 10.2147/ORR.S309995. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Trialling is a key step in total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and helps the surgeon assess for adequate balancing, range of motion, and stability. Despite this, there are no studies investigating knee kinematics when using trial versus final polyethylene tibial inserts.

Materials and methods: Fourteen fresh frozen cadaveric specimens were cycled in a VIVO joint motion simulator. Using both simple compression and simulated muscle loads, joints were tested after TKA with a trial insert or a final tibial poly insert. Anterior/posterior (AP), internal/external (IE), and varus/valgus (VV) kinematics and laxities were analyzed.

Results: Knees with trial poly inserts had significantly greater AP hysteresis (difference between flexion and extension motion) than those with final poly inserts (p=0.001). There was no significant difference in IE (p=0.563) or VV (p=0.580) hysteresis. There was no difference in AP, IE, or VV motion or laxities when considering the flexion path alone. Prosthetic joints followed different paths in flexion versus extension.

Conclusion: While trial tibial inserts impart valuable information, they may not accurately reproduce the same joint kinematics as final inserts. Balancing of the knee at specific degrees of flexion may depend on the path taken to get there.

Keywords: arthroplasty; kinematics; knee; poly; trial.