An in vivo biomechanical analysis of the soft-tissue envelope of osteoarthritic knees
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Soft-tissue balancing and the amount of tension applied to the ligaments in a well-functioning total knee arthroplasty (TKA) has, thus far, not been accurately quantified. A ligament-tensioning device was used to measure displacement between the tibia and femur versus load during 86 consecutive TKAs. Measurements were made in flexion and extension following bone cuts and final soft-tissue balancing to calculate mean effective stiffness (MES) of the soft-tissue envelope and mean resting force on the implanted polyethylene component. MES was not affected by age or gender and did not differ in flexion versus extension. MES was significantly higher in posterior cruciate-retaining knees compared with posterior cruciate-sacrificing knees. There was no statistical difference between mean resting force on the polyethylene in flexion versus extension, or in posterior cruciate-retaining versus -sacrificing knees. These biomechanical data will serve as a good starting point for which to compare the expected stiffness of the ligaments and resting load on the polyethylene in well-balanced knees.
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