Improved total knee arthroplasty pain outcome when joint gap targets are achieved throughout flexion

Edgar A. Wakelin, Sami Shalhoub, Jeffrey M. Lawrence, John M. Keggi, Jeffrey H. DeClaire, Amber L. Randall, Corey E. Ponder, Jan A. Koenig, Stephen Lyman, Christopher Plaskos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Achieving a balanced knee is accepted as an important goal in total knee arthroplasty; however, the definition of ideal balance remains controversial. This study therefore endeavoured to determine: (1) whether medio-lateral gap balance in extension, midflexion, and flexion are associated with improved outcome scores at one-year post-operatively and (2) whether these relationships can be used to identify windows of optimal gap balance throughout flexion. Methods: 135 patients were enrolled in a multicenter, multi-surgeon, prospective investigation using a robot-assisted surgical platform and posterior cruciate ligament sacrificing gap balancing technique. Joint gaps were measured under a controlled tension of 70–90 N from 10°–90° flexion. Linear correlations between joint gaps and one-year KOOS outcomes were investigated. KOOS Pain and Activities of Daily Living sub-scores were used to define clinically relevant joint gap target thresholds in extension, midflexion, and flexion. Gap thresholds were then combined to investigate the synergistic effects of satisfying multiple targets. Results: Significant linear correlations were found throughout extension, midflexion, and flexion. Joint gap thresholds of an equally balanced or tighter medial compartment in extension, medial laxity ± 1 mm compared to the final insert thickness in midflexion, and a medio-lateral imbalance of less than 1.5 mm in flexion generated subgroups that reported significantly improved KOOS pain scores at one year (median ∆ = 8.3, 5.6 and 2.8 points, respectively). Combining any two targets resulted in further improved outcomes, with the greatest improvement observed when all three targets were satisfied (median ∆ = 11.2, p = 0.002). Conclusion: Gap thresholds identified in this study provide clinically relevant and achievable targets for optimising soft tissue balance in posterior cruciate ligament sacrificing gap balancing total knee arthroplasty. When all three balance windows were achieved, clinically meaningful pain improvement was observed. Level of Evidence: Level II.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-947
Number of pages9
JournalKnee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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