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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2004 Nov;86(8):1133-6.

The flexion gap in normal knees. An MRI study.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Osaka City University Medical School, 1-4-3 Asahimachi, Abeno-ku, Osaka City, Osaka 545-8585, Japan.


Varus and valgus joint laxity of the normal living knee in flexion was assessed using MRI. Twenty knees were flexed to 90 degrees and were imaged in neutral and under a varus-valgus stress in an open MRI system. The configuration of the tibiofemoral joint gap was studied in slices which crossed the epicondyles of the femur. When a varus stress was applied, the lateral joint gap opened by 6.7 +/- 1.9 mm (mean +/- SD; 2.1 to 9.2) whereas the medial joint gap opened by only by a mean of 2.1 +/- 1.1 mm (0.2 to 4.2). These discrepancies indicate that the tibiofemoral flexion gap in the normal knee is not rectangular and that the lateral joint gap is significantly lax. These results may be useful for adequate soft-tissue balancing and bone resection in total knee arthroplasty and reconstruction surgery on ligaments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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