[Total knee prosthesis. Clinical and numerical study of micromovements of the tibial implant]

Rev Chir Orthop Reparatrice Appar Mot. 1995;80(1):28-35.
[Article in French]


Introduction: The importance of the micromovements in the mechanism of aseptic loosening is clinically difficult to evaluate. To complete the analysis of a series of total knee arthroplasties (TKA), we used a tridimensional numerical model to study the micromovements of the tibial implant.

Material and methods: Fifty one patients (with 57 cemented Porous Coated Anatomic TKAs) were reviewed (mean follow-up 4.5 year). Radiolucency at the tibial bone-cement interface was sought on the AP radiographs and divided in 7 areas. The distribution of the radiolucency was then correlated with the axis of the lower limb as measured on the orthoradiograms. The tridimensional numerical model is based on the finite element method. It allowed the measurement of the cemented prosthetic tibial implant's displacements and the micromovements generated at bone-ciment interface. A total load (2000 Newton) was applied at first vertically and asymetrically on the tibial plateau, thereby simulating an axial deviation of the lower limbs. The vector's posterior inclination then permitted the addition of a tangential component to the axial load. This type of effort is generated by complex biomechanical phenomena such as knee flexion.

Results: 81 per cent of the 57 knees had a radiolucent line of at least 1 mm, at one or more of the tibial cement-epiphysis jonctional areas. The distribution of these lucent lines showed that they came out more frequently at the periphery of the implant. The lucent lines appeared most often under the unloaded margin of the tibial plateau, when axial deviation of lower limbs was present. Numerical simulations showed that asymetrical loading on the tibial plateau induced a subsidence of the loaded margin (0-100 microns) and lifting off at the opposite border (0-70 microns). The postero-anterior tangential component induced an anterior displacement of the tibial implant (160-220 microns), and horizontal micromovements with non homogenous distribution at the bone-ciment interface (28-54 microns).

Discussion: Comparison of clinical and numerical results showed a relation between the development of radiolucent lines and the unloading of the tibial implant's margin. The deleterious effect of lower limbs' axial deviation is thereby proven. The irregular distribution of lucent lines under the tibial plateau was similar of the micromovements' repartition at the bone-cement interface when tangential forces were present. A causative relation between the two phenomenaes could not however be established. Numerical simulation is a truly useful method of study; it permits to calculate micromovements which are relative, non homogenous and of very low amplitude. However, comparative clinical studies remain as essential to ensure the credibility of results.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee Prosthesis* / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Numerical Analysis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies