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Can isolated removal of osteophytes achieve correction of varus deformity and gap-balance in computer-assisted total knee arthroplasty?

an analysis of navigation data

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The aims of this study were to determine the effect of osteophyte excision on deformity correction and soft tissue gap balance in varus knees undergoing computer-assisted total knee arthroplasty (TKA).


A total of 492 consecutive, cemented, cruciate-substituting TKAs performed for varus osteoarthritis were studied. After exposure and excision of both cruciates and menisci, it was noted from operative records the corrective interventions performed in each case. Knees in which no releases after the initial exposure, those which had only osteophyte excision, and those in which further interventions were performed were identified. From recorded navigation data, coronal and sagittal limb alignment, knee flexion range, and medial and lateral gap distances in maximum knee extension and 90° knee flexion with maximal varus and valgus stresses, were established, initially after exposure and excision of both cruciate ligaments, and then also at trialling. Knees were defined as ‘aligned’ if the hip-knee-ankle axis was between 177° and 180°, (0° to 3° varus) and ‘balanced’ if medial and lateral gaps in extension and at 90° flexion were within 2 mm of each other.


Of 50 knees (10%) with no soft tissue releases (other than cruciate ligaments), 90% were aligned, 81% were balanced, and 73% were aligned and balanced. In 288 knees (59%) only osteophyte excision was performed by subperiosteally releasing the deep medial collateral ligament. Of these, 98% were aligned, 80% were balanced, and 79% were aligned and balanced. In 154 knees (31%), additional procedures were performed (reduction osteotomy, posterior capsular release, and semimembranosus release). Of these, 89% were aligned, 68% were balanced, and 66% were aligned and balanced. The superficial medial collateral ligament was not released in any case.


Two-thirds of all knees could be aligned and balanced with release of the cruciate ligaments alone and excision of osteophytes. Excision of osteophytes can be a useful step towards achieving deformity correction and gap balance without having to resort to soft tissue release in varus knees while maintaining classical coronal and sagittal alignment of components.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(6 Supple A):49–58.

Correspondence should be sent to Arun Mullaji. E-mail:

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