Malrotation causing patellofemoral complications after total knee arthroplasty

Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1998 Nov;(356):144-53. doi: 10.1097/00003086-199811000-00021.


Thirty patients with isolated patellofemoral complications after total knee arthroplasty were compared with 20 patients with well functioning total knee replacements without patellofemoral complications. The epicondylar axis and tibial tubercle were used as references on computed tomography scans to measure quantitatively rotational alignment of the femoral and tibial components. The group with patellofemoral complications had excessive combined (tibial plus femoral) internal component rotation. This excessive combined internal rotation was directly proportional to the severity of the patellofemoral complication. Small amounts of combined internal rotation (1 degree-4 degrees) correlated with lateral tracking and patellar tilting. Moderate combined internal rotation (3 degrees-8 degrees) correlated with patellar subluxation. Large amounts of combined internal rotational (7 degrees-17 degrees) correlated with early patellar dislocation or late patellar prosthesis failure. The control group was in combined external rotation (10 degrees-0 degree). The direct correlation of combined (femoral and tibial) internal component rotation to the severity of the patellofemoral complication suggests that internal component rotation may be the predominant cause of patellofemoral complications in patients with normal axial alignment. The epicondylar axis and tibial tubercle are reproducible landmarks which are visible on computed tomography scans and can be used intraoperatively. Using this computed tomography study can determine wether rotational malalignment is present and thus, whether revision of one or both components may be indicated.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging*
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology*
  • Rotation
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*