IntroductionPosterior tibial slope (PTS) and sagittal alignment are important factors in the etiology of knee osteoarthritis and knee surgery. Clinically, sagittal alignment, which indicates flexion contracture of the knee, contributes to knee function in weight-bearing (WB) conditions. PTS and sagittal alignment under WB conditions in varus osteoarthritic knees are presumed to affect each other, but their association remains unclear. In this study, we aimed to clarify the association.
Material and methodsIn total, 140 osteoarthritic varus knees were investigated. Under WB conditions, a three-dimensional (3D) alignment assessment system was applied via biplanar long-leg X-rays, using 3D-to-2D image registration technique. The evaluation parameters were as follows: 1) 3D mechanical flexion angle (3DMFA) in regards to sagittal alignment, 2) passing point in the WB line (PP), and 3) medial and lateral PTS.
ResultsThe medial and lateral PTS showed a positive correlation with 3DMFA and PP, respectively (medial PTS-3DMFA, p = 0.001; medial PTS-PP, p < 0.0001; lateral PTS-3DMFA, p < 0.0001; lateral PTS-PP, p = 0.002). The flexion contracture group with 3DMFA >5° demonstrated greater PTS than non-flexion contracture group (medial PTS, p = 0.006; lateral PTS, p = 0.006).
ConclusionsBoth medial and lateral PTS were correlated with sagittal alignment under WB conditions and were larger in the flexion contracture group. This finding can explain the function to take the load articular surface parallel to the ground for holding the balance in WB conditions in the sagittal plane for osteoarthritic knees. Moreover, surgeons may be required to decrease the PTS during knee arthroplasty to restore full extension in knees of patients with fixed flexion contracture.