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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1990 Jun;(255):215-27.

Normal axial alignment of the lower extremity and load-bearing distribution at the knee.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedics, Mayo Clinic/Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905.


Based on a series of 120 normal subjects of different gender and age, the geometry of the knee joint was analyzed using a full-length weight-bearing roentgenogram of the lower extremity. A special computer program based on the theory of a rigid body spring model was applied to calculate the important anatomic and biomechanical factors of the knee joint. The tibiofemoral mechanical angle was 1.2 degrees varus. Hence, it is difficult to rationalize the 3 degree varus placement of the tibial component in total knee arthroplasty suggested by some authors. The distal femoral anatomic valgus (measured from the lower one-half of the femur) was 4.2 degrees in reference to its mechanical axis. This angle became 4.9 degrees when the full-length femoral anatomic axis was used. When simulating a one-legged weight-bearing stance by shifting the upper-body gravity closer to the knee joint, 75% of the knee joint load passed through the medial tibial plateau. The knee joint-line obliquity was more varus in male subjects. The female subjects had a higher peak joint pressure and a greater patello-tibial Q angle. Age had little effect on the factors relating to axial alignment of the lower extremity and load transmission through the knee joint.

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