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Internal rotational error of the tibial component is a major cause of pain after total knee replacement

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This study used CT analysis to determine the rotational alignment of 39 painful and 26 painless fixed-bearing total knee replacements (TKRs) from a cohort of 740 NexGen Legacy posterior-stabilised and cruciate-retaining prostheses implanted between May 1996 and August 2003.

The mean rotation of the tibial component was 4.3° of internal rotation (25.4° internal to 13.9° external rotation) in the painful group and 2.2° of external rotation (8.5° internal to 18.2° external rotation) in the painfree group (p = 0.024). In the painful group 17 tibial components were internally rotated more than 9° compared with none in the painfree group (p < 0.001). Additionally, six femoral components in the painful group were internally rotated more than 6° compared with none in the painfree group (p = 0.017). External rotational errors were not found to be associated with pain.

Overall, 22 (56.4%) of the painful TKRs had internal rotational errors involving the femoral, the tibial or both components. It is estimated that at least 4.6% of all our TKRs have been implanted with significant internal rotational errors.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr D. Nicoll; e-mail: nicoll_dave@yahoo.co.uk

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