Kinematics and laxity of a linked total elbow arthroplasty following computer navigated implant positioning
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Aseptic loosening in total elbow arthroplasty (TEA) remains the most common cause of long-term failure. While several different mechanisms of implant loosening have been suggested, it is likely that one important underlying cause is implant malpositioning, resulting in changes in joint kinematics and loading. Although use of computer navigation has been shown to improve component positioning in other joints, no such system currently exists for the elbow. This study used real-time computer feedback for humeral, ulnar, and radial component positioning in 11 cadaveric extremities. An elbow motion simulator evaluated joint kinematics. Endosteal abutment of the stems of the humeral and ulnar components precluded optimal positioning in 5 and 6 specimens, respectively. Loss of the normal valgus angulation following elbow arthroplasty (p < 0.05) suggests that errors in humeral component positioning translate directly into changes in joint kinematics during active motion. These findings suggest that although computer navigation can reproduce normal joint kinematics, optimal implant positioning may require a TEA system which allows for some modularity to accommodate the normal variations in osseous morphology of the elbow.
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