Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) may provoke ankle symptoms. The aim of this study was to validate the impact of the preoperative mechanical tibiofemoral angle (mTFA), the talar tilt (TT) on ankle symptoms after TKA, and assess changes in the range of motion (ROM) of the subtalar joint, foot posture, and ankle laxity.
Patients who underwent TKA from September 2020 to September 2021 were prospectively included. Inclusion criteria were primary end-stage osteoarthritis (Kellgren-Lawrence stage IV) of the knee. Exclusion criteria were missed follow-up visit, post-traumatic pathologies of the foot, and neurological disorders. Radiological angles measured included the mTFA, hindfoot alignment view angle, and TT. The Foot Function Index (FFI) score was assessed. Gait analyses were conducted to measure mediolateral changes of the gait line and ankle laxity was tested using an ankle arthrometer. All parameters were acquired one week pre- and three months postoperatively.
A total of 69 patients (varus n = 45; valgus n = 24) underwent TKA and completed the postoperative follow-up visit. Of these, 16 patients (23.2%) reported the onset or progression of ankle symptoms. Varus patients with increased ankle symptoms after TKA had a significantly higher pre- and postoperative TT. Valgus patients with ankle symptoms after TKA showed a pathologically lateralized gait line which could not be corrected through TKA. Patients who reported increased ankle pain neither had a decreased ROM of the subtalar joint nor increased ankle laxity following TKA. The preoperative mTFA did not correlate with the postoperative FFI (r = 0.037; p = 0.759).
Approximately one-quarter of the patients developed ankle pain after TKA. If patients complain about ankle symptoms after TKA, standing radiographs of the ankle and a gait analysis could help in detecting a malaligned TT or a pathological gait.
Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2023;105-B(11):1159–1167.