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Orthop Clin North Am. 1994 Jul;25(3):367-77.

Malalignment and degenerative arthropathy.

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Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.


The axial relationship of the joints of the lower extremity reflects both alignment and orientation. Static considerations are useful for preoperative planning and deformity correction, but dynamic considerations including compensatory gait may be more relevant clinically. Laboratory animal models have been developed that simulate the deleterious effect of malalignment on articular cartilage. Malalignment disturbs the normal transmission of force across the knee, and altered stress distribution related to deformity has been demonstrated in cadaver models using pressure-sensitive film. No prospective data are available to document the natural history of malalignment, but several retrospective studies suggest the clinical course is one of gradual progression resulting in degenerative arthropathy. The long-term follow-up of fractures is less definitive, and difficult to interpret considering the bias inherent in patient selection. Although direct clinical evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship between malalignment and arthrosis has not been possible, substantial evidence from the orthopedic literature supports this hypothesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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