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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1991 Aug;(269):63-9.

Effect of the tibial cut on subsidence following total knee arthroplasty.

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Bone and Joint Research Labs, VA Medical Center, Salt Lake City, Utah 84148.


In 33 total knee arthroplasties (TKAs) using instrumentation designed to cut the tibia with 0 degree posterior slope, ten tibial components demonstrated at least 2 mm of tibial component subsidence. These subsided components were implanted onto tibiae with an average of 8 degrees +/- 2 degrees difference between the preoperative, anatomic posterior slope and their postoperative posterior slope. The remaining 23 components, without subsidence, were implanted onto tibiae cut within 2 degrees +/- 2 degrees of their anatomic slope. To help understand these clinical observations, a laboratory study was performed to compare the load carrying capacity and the stiffness of tibial subchondral bone following two types of tibial cuts: one made perpendicular to the long axis of the tibia and the other made parallel to the articular surface of the tibia. Mock tibial baseplates mounted on paired cadaver tibiae were loaded in compression and force displacement curves were recorded. Tibiae cut parallel to the surface exhibited 40% greater load carrying capacity and 70% greater stiffness than the paired tibiae cut perpendicular to the long axis. The biomechanical data of this study indicated that cutting the tibia perpendicular to the long axis results in weaker bone that may be inadequate to support a tibial component. This may explain the higher incidence of clinical subsidence if the tibial cut is not made approximately parallel to the anatomic slope.

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