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Total Knee Arthroplasty for Severe Valgus Deformity


Amar S. Ranawat, Chitranjan S. Ranawat, Mark Elkus, Vijay J. Rasquinha, Roberto Rossi and Sushrut Babhulkar
J Bone Joint Surg Am. 87:271-284, 2005. doi:10.2106/JBJS.E.00308

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COPYRIGHT © 2005 BY THE JOURNAL OF BONE AND JOINT SURGERY, INCORPORATED

Total Knee Arthroplasty for


Severe Valgus Deformity
Surgical Technique
By Amar S. Ranawat, MD, Chitranjan S. Ranawat, MD, Mark Elkus, MD, Vijay J. Rasquinha, MD,
Roberto Rossi, MD, and Sushrut Babhulkar, MD
Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY

The original scientific article in which the surgical technique was presented was published in JBJS Vol. 86-A, pp. 2671-2676, December 2004

INTRODUCTION
Approximately 10% of patients requiring total knee arthroplasty have ABSTRACT
a valgus deformity (defined as an anatomic valgus of >10°). Correc-
BACKGROUND:
tion of the valgus deformity has posed technical challenges and has
In 1985, the senior author
produced variable clinical results in terms of correction of the defor- (C.S.R.) developed a new soft-
mity, instability, and the overall results. The valgus deformity may be tissue release technique to
caused by rheumatoid arthritis, posttraumatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, balance valgus knees to avoid
or metabolic bone disease. unacceptably high rates of late-
The valgus deformity consists of two components: an element of onset instability and the need
bone loss with metaphyseal remodeling, primarily from the lateral for primary constrained im-
plants. This report describes the
femoral condyle and lateral tibial plateau, and a soft-tissue contracture soft-tissue release technique
consisting of tight lateral structures, such as the iliotibial band, lateral and its long-term results when
collateral ligament, popliteus tendon, posterolateral capsule, and ham- performed in primary total knee
string muscles1. arthroplasty in patients with a
Multiple surgical techniques have been described to balance the severe valgus knee deformity.
soft tissues after correction of a severe valgus deformity during total
METHODS:
knee replacement. The following guide describes the “inside-out
Four hundred and ninety consec-
technique.”
utive total knee arthroplasties
were performed by one surgeon
SURGICAL TECHNIQUE between January 1988 and
Preoperative Radiographic December 1992. In this group,
Evaluation seventy-one patients (eighty-five
Weight-bearing anteroposterior, lateral, and sunrise radiographs of knees) had a valgus deformity of
10°. Thirty-two patients (thirty-
the knee should be assessed for overall coronal alignment in conjunc-
six knees) died, and four pa-
tion with an anteroposterior radiograph of the pelvis. The valgus knee tients (seven knees) were lost to
has been classified into three types. A type-I deformity has minimal follow-up, leaving thirty-five pa-
valgus and medial soft-tissue stretching. A typical type-II fixed valgus tients (forty-two knees) followed
deformity has a more substantial deformity (>10°) with medial soft- for a minimum of five years.
tissue stretching, as shown in Figures 1 and 2, and shall be the focus of continued
this technique guide. A type-III deformity is a severe osseous defor-

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ABSTRACT | continued

These twenty-seven women and


eight men had a mean age of
sixty-seven years at the time of
the index operation. The tech-
nique included an inside-out
soft-tissue release of the pos-
terolateral aspect of the cap-
sule with pie-crusting of the
iliotibial band and resection of
the proximal part of the tibia
and distal part of the femur to
provide a balanced, rectangular
space. Cemented, posterior
stabilized implants were used
in all knees. Clinical and radio-
graphic evaluations were per-
formed at one, five, and ten
years postoperatively.

RESULTS:
The mean modified Knee Society
clinical score improved from 30
points preoperatively to 93
points postoperatively, and the
mean functional score improved
from 34 to 81 points. The mean
range of motion was 110° both
preoperatively and postopera-
tively. The mean coronal align-
ment was corrected from 15°
of valgus preoperatively to 5°
of valgus postoperatively. Three
patients underwent revision
surgery because of delayed in-
fection, premature polyethylene
wear, and patellar loosening in FIG. 1
one patient each. There were no
Radiograph of a type-II valgus deformity.
cases of delayed instability.

CONCLUSIONS: mity after a prior osteotomy should be aware of distal femo-


The inside-out release technique with an incompetent medial ral hypoplasia, posterior femoral
to correct a fixed valgus defor- soft-tissue sleeve, which is best condylar erosion, unusual proxi-
mity in patients undergoing pri- managed with a constrained or mal femoral neck-shaft angles,
mary total knee arthroplasty is
hinged total-knee design. and metaphyseal remodeling of
reproducible and provides excel-
lent long-term results.
Attention should always be both the femur and the tibia,
focused on both the osseous and which can lead to malalignment
soft-tissue deformities. One or malrotation of the femoral

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FIG. 2

Preoperative clinical photograph of


the knee shown in Figure 1.

component. Full-length stand-


ing radiographs of the lower ex-
tremity can help to avoid these
problems.
Fixed flexion contractures
and the amount of medial joint-
space opening may influence the
amount of osseous resection nec-
essary to correct the deformity.
Generally speaking, in type-II
fixed valgus deformities in which
the medial joint space on stand-
ing anteroposterior radiographs
is >1 cm, less bone than is typi-
cally removed should be resected
from both the distal part of the
femur and proximal part of the
tibia in order to allow for soft-
tissue balancing without elevat-
ing the joint line or creating an
extension gap that is too large.
The amount of osseous resection
can be templated on the radio- FIG. 3
graphs prior to surgery. Templating
of the pre-
Templating operative
Anteroposterior Radiograph (Fig. 3) radiograph.

1. A vertical line is drawn down

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FIG. 5

The alignment rod is centered over the medial third of the tibial tu-
bercle proximally and the mid-talus distally.
FIG. 4

Photograph of the PFC Sigma posterior stabilized


fixed-bearing total knee prosthesis.

the center of the femoral and tib- 3. On the femoral side, a proximal tibial cut and a distal
ial shafts. line is drawn at the level of the femoral cut performed in 3° of
2. On the tibial shaft, a line lateral aspect of the distal por- valgus to the anatomical axis.
is drawn perpendicular to the tion of the femur that is in 3° of This is done, as opposed to the
first line at the level of the more valgus in relation to the vertical typical 5° to 7° of valgus used for
involved lateral tibial plateau. line that was drawn in Step 1. a varus knee, in order to protect
This will be used to give an idea This line gives an idea of the against undercorrection of the
of the tibial resection that will be amount of osseous resection underlying deformity.
performed. The relative amount needed from the medial and lat-
of the osseous resection as well as eral femoral condyles. Coronal Lateral Radiograph
the ratio of lateral-to-medial re- correction with the “inside-out 1. On the lateral radiograph, any
section can be determined. technique” is based on a 90° posterior osteophytes should be

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identified and outlined with a


marker. During the procedure,
these osteophytes should be re-
moved as they may hinder the
range of motion as well as the
soft-tissue balance.
2. The lateral radiograph is
used for sizing the femoral com-
ponent, as magnification of the
femoral condyle is greater (by
5% to 7%) on the anteroposte-
rior radiograph.

Preoperative Selection
of Implant
The goals of total knee replace-
ment are to restore the alignment
of the knee, the joint line, the sta-
bility of the joint, and the range FIG. 6
of motion; to assure proper pa- The femoral alignment rod is set at 3° of valgus during the rough anterior cut and the dis-
tellofemoral tracking; and to ap- tal femoral cut.
ply proper fixation techniques.
While these goals can be accom- placement design, we believe that the use of a posterior stabilized
plished with any total knee re- there are inherent advantages to design when correcting the val-
gus deformity (Fig. 4). First, the
posterior stabilized design is in-
herently more stable than a cru-
ciate-retaining design as a result
of the post-cam mechanism and
joint surface conformity. Thus, it
is applicable to most deformi-
ties. Second, the posterior stabi-
lized design allows for greater
lateralization of the femoral and
tibial components, which greatly
improves patellar tracking and
minimizes the need for lateral
retinacular releases. Finally, this
technique involves complete
resection of the posterior cru-
ciate ligament, obviating any
advantage offered by a cruciate-
retaining design.
FIG. 7

A spacer block is used to check knee ligamentous stability. Patient Positioning


After spinal anesthesia has been

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CRITICAL CONCEPTS
with use of an osteotome or rior stabilized implant requires
electrocautery to create a small release of both cruciate liga-
INDICATIONS: medial sleeve of tissue. The pa- ments at this point. The me-
Type-I and II valgus deformities tella is then everted after releas- nisci are excised, and the tibia is
of the knee with severe arthritis ing the patellofemoral ligament, maximally flexed and externally
and the knee is fully flexed to rotated to expose the entire tib-
CONTRAINDICATIONS: expose the cruciate ligaments ial plateau. The knee is stabi-
Type-III valgus deformities
and the menisci. Use of a poste- lized in flexion by placing the
continued

administered, the patient is


positioned supine on the oper-
ating table. A tourniquet is
placed high on the thigh, and
the knee is shaved if needed. A
lateral thigh post, positioned at
the level of the tourniquet, can
help to stabilize the knee when
it is placed in flexion with the
aid of a bump placed under the
foot and taped securely to the
table.

Approach and Exposure


After positioning, the extremity
is prepared and draped. With
the knee in extension, a straight
midline incision is planned.
The knee is then hyperflexed,
and a straight midline incision
is made starting approximately
5 to 10 cm proximal to the su-
perior pole of the patella and
continuing an equal distance
distal to its inferior pole. The
incision is carried down to
the deep fascial layer to expose
the quadriceps tendon, vastus
medialis obliquus, patella, and
patellar tendon. Undermining
of the skin flaps is avoided. A
standard medial arthrotomy is
made. FIG. 8
The medial soft tissues are Schematic of a valgus deformity before the “inside-out” release. Note the trapezoidal ex-
released subperiosteally from tension gap.
the proximal part of the tibia

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foot on the previously installed resection will vary, depending be resected from the medial
bump. on the preoperative evaluation side. Before the tibial cuts are
of the deformity and ligamen- made, alignment should be con-
Tibial Resection tous laxity. In type-II valgus de- firmed with the alignment
The proximal portion of the formities, one should remember guide. The distal portion of the
tibia should be resected at 90° to to resect less bone than normal, alignment device should align
its long axis. The exact level of i.e., generally, 6 to 8 mm should with the center of the talus on
the anteroposterior radiograph.
On the lateral radiograph, the
alignment rod should run paral-
lel with the tibial crest. Once the
cutting jig is secured in place,
the proximal tibial resection is
performed.
Next, the trial tibial inset is
used to determine the size of
the tibial tray needed on the
basis of the anteroposterior
diameter of the lateral condyle.
An alignment rod is used to
check the alignment of the cut
tibial surface once again (Fig.
5). One should remember that,
when using this technique, a
varus tibial cut causes the fem-
oral component to be inter-
nally rotated during the flexion
gap evaluation.

Femoral Resection
The femoral canal is first en-
tered with use of a gouge to as-
sist in drill passage. The entry
point is the intersection of the
patellofemoral and the tibio-
femoral articular surfaces on the
lateral and medial femoral
condyles. The canal should be
entered with a drill, and then
the entry point should be en-
larged by rotating the drill be-
FIG. 9 fore sinking it completely. With
a correct entry point, the drill
Schematic after release of the posterolateral capsule and “pie-crusting” of the iliotibial
band. Note the symmetrical extension gap. LCL = lateral collateral ligament, and PCL = should not come into contact
posterior cruciate ligament. with the cortices of the femoral
shaft.

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Next, the intramedullary


femoral rod is inserted into the
hole and a femoral cutting jig is
aligned with the distal aspect of
the femur. The valgus angle with
the appropriate “right” or “left”
designation is set and placed on
the front of the locating device.
With a valgus knee, the jig is set
to cut in 3° of valgus to compen-
sate for metaphyseal-diaphyseal
valgus remodeling that has usu-
ally taken place and to avoid un-
dercorrection of the underlying
deformity (Fig. 6).
The cutting block is then
rotated until it is roughly paral-
lel to the cut surface of the tibia
with the knee in 90° of flexion. FIG. 10
The anterior rough cut is made, A spacer block is placed in the extension gap.
and then the distal femoral cut
is made, resecting no more
than 10 mm of bone from the balanced valgus knee. Next, a trally in the gap. If the knee is
medial side while only remov- lamina spreader is placed cen- unbalanced, this should mani-
ing 1 to 2 mm from the lateral
side.
At this point, the knee is
extended and a spacer block is
placed into the extension gap.
The limb is exsanguinated, and
the tourniquet is inflated. The
patella is then prepared for
resurfacing.

Evaluation of the
Extension Gap
Attention can now be directed
to the extension gap. With an
appropriately sized spacer block
in place, the mediolateral stabil-
ity of the knee is evaluated in
full extension by applying both
a varus and a valgus stress (Fig.
7). The application of stress FIG. 11

should demonstrate lateral side Applying a varus stress. Note the opening on the lateral side.
soft-tissue tightness in an un-

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CRITICAL CONCEPTS | continued

PITFALLS:
• With this technique, a varus
tibial cut can lead to internal
rotation of the femoral
component.

• While performing the “inside-


out” release of the posterior
capsule, one should use
electrocautery to avoid iatro-
genic injury to the peroneal
nerve.

• While pie-crusting of the ili-


otibial band is performed,
caution should be taken to
avoid puncturing through the
skin on the lateral side of
FIG. 12 the knee.

Applying a valgus stress. Note the equal amount of opening on the medial side. This • The surgeon should ensure
knee is balanced. that the knee is indeed bal-
anced in extension before as-
sessing the flexion gap.

continued

sary to fractionally lengthen the


lateral side (Figs. 8 and 9).

The Steps of the “Inside-Out”


Technique
1. Remove peripheral
osteophytes.
2. Extend the knee and
distract with a lamina spreader.
3. Irrigate and dry the joint.
4. Palpate the posterior
cruciate ligament, posterolat-
eral corner, and iliotibial band
with a finger or with a small
FIG. 13
Cobb elevator to determine
Preliminary placement of the anteroposterior cutting block on the distal aspect of the femur. tight structures.
5. Release any remnant of
fest as a trapezoidal gap. The is trapezoidal, soft-tissue the posterior cruciate ligament.
goal is to achieve a rectangular balancing with use of the 6. Release the posterolat-
extension gap. When the gap “inside-out” technique is neces- eral capsule intra-articularly

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with use of electrocautery at the


level of the tibial cut surface
from the posterior cruciate liga-
ment to the posterior border of
the iliotibial band. (Electrocau-
tery is used to avoid injury to the
peroneal nerve, which is usually
located <1 cm from the articu-
lar side.)
7. Preserve the popliteus if
possible, unless it is too tight.
8. The iliotibial band is
lengthened as necessary from the
inside with multiple transverse
stab incisions a few centimeters
proximal to the joint line with
use of the so-called pie-crusting
technique2.
9. Repeat these steps FIG. 14
after manual stress-testing if
Evaluation of the flexion gap with a lamina spreader.
necessary.
The knee should now be
balanced in extension. The ap- side can lead to internal rota- with use of this technique.
plication of a varus and valgus tion of the femoral component The knee is placed in 90° of
stress to the knee with a spacer
block in place should allow for
a “springy” give of 2 to 3 mm
on both the medial and lateral
sides (Figs. 10, 11, and 12). The
retention of at least one or two
of the lateral stabilizers is im-
portant for stability. If instabil-
ity is detected after the releases
have been performed, then use
of a constrained component is
considered.

Evaluation of the
Flexion Gap
Once the knee is balanced in ex-
tension, the flexion gap can be
addressed. One should not at-
tempt flexion gap balance until
the extension gap has been bal- FIG. 15
anced. One should remember Evaluation of the flexion gap with a spacer block in place.
that overrelease of the medial

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(Bone cuts are used to balance


the knee in flexion, whereas
controlled soft-tissue lengthen-
ing is used to balance the
knee in extension.) A lamina
spreader is placed into the flex-
ion gap, and the medial and lat-
eral flexion gaps are measured
(Fig. 14). If the gaps are un-
equal, the block can be rotated
and/or raised or lowered to cre-
ate a symmetric gap. The size of
the gap should be the same as
the extension gap or even 2 mm
less. The same spacer block that
was used in the extension gap
can be placed into the flexion
gap, prior to cutting the poste-
rior condyles, to assess flexion
stability. It should create a snug
FIG. 16
fit with no visible medial or lat-
Intraoperative view of the knee after all bone cuts have been made. eral opening during internal and
external rotation of the leg (Fig.
15). If, at any time, rotational
flexion, and an anteroposterior narily fixed to the distal aspect malalignment is suspected, align-
cutting block of the same size as of the femur roughly parallel to ment can be checked by referenc-
the tibial component is prelimi- the cut tibial surface (Fig. 13). ing the cutting block with respect

CRITICAL CONCEPTS | continued

AUTHOR UPDATE:
Many different surgical tech- could not be prevented with balanc- author (C.S.R.) in 1985 to addres
niques and approaches have been ing techniques alone. Other sur- inherent instabilities noted with his
described for correcting the valgus geons have promoted medial earlier technique, originally de-
knee2-17. However, the results are collateral ligament tightening re- scribed in 1979, with the total
generally inferior and the com- constructions or lateral parapatel- condylar knee replacement1,2,9,18.
plication rates are generally higher lar approaches to deal with these
inherent instabilities. It is our opin- With use of the “inside-out” tech-
when correcting a valgus defor-
ion that these techniques are not nique and the PFC Sigma posterior
mity compared with its varus
only unnecessary but also techni- stabilized total knee system (DePuy
counterpart.
cally difficult and fraught with the Orthopaedics, Warsaw, Indiana), no
These outcomes are due, in part, to problems with late-onset instability
potential for wound and extensor
the technically demanding nature of or neurovascular injury have been
mechanism complications.
soft-tissue balancing in the valgus noted (Figs. 17 through 20). There-
knee. This, in turn, has led some In an effort to deal with these is- fore, we recommend this technique
surgeons to accept the use of con- sues, the technique described for the correction of all valgus type-I
strained implants when instability herein was adopted by the senior and II deformities.

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FIG. 17 FIG. 18

Clinical photograph of a bilateral valgus deformity before Clinical photograph of a bilateral valgus deformity after total
total knee replacement. knee replacement with use of the “inside-out” technique.

to the anteroposterior axis of should first be assessed with the ment is allowed to polymerize.
Whiteside or the transepicondy- tourniquet deflated. If the com- The capsule is closed in flexion
lar axis3. ponents are well aligned and a over a drain.
The final anterior and pos- release is deemed necessary,
terior flexion cuts can now be pie-crusting of the lateral reti- Postoperative Management
made. Box and chamfer cuts can naculum usually suffices and The patient is evaluated closely
then be made allowing for later- avoids the complications of per- for any signs of peroneal nerve
alization of the femoral compo- forming a full longitudinal lat- compromise. If any sign of nerve
nent (Fig. 16). Trial components eral release. compromise develops, the knee
can be inserted to test the knee The knee is irrigated and is placed in flexion. If the com-
for stability through a full range the bone is dried. The compo- promise does not improve, the
of motion and for adequate pa- nents are cemented into place. bandage is then loosened. Physi-
tellar tracking. Excess cement is removed dur- cal therapy and continuous pas-
Maltracking of the patella ing pressurization, and the ce- sive motion are initiated on the

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FIG. 20

Radiograph after total knee replacement with a PFC Sigma


posterior stablized fixed-bearing design.
FIG. 19

Radiograph of a valgus deformity before total knee replacement.

first postoperative day after the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Lenox Hill Hos- research fund, foundation, educational institu-
pital, 130 East 77th Street, William Black Hall, tion, or other charitable or nonprofit organization
drain has been removed. Pa- 11th Floor, New York, NY 10021. E-mail address with which the authors are affiliated or associated.
tients are progressed to weight- for A.S. Ranawat: aranawat@rocinnyc.com
The line drawings in this article are the work of
bearing as tolerated. The authors did not receive grants or outside fund- Joanne Haderer Müller of Haderer & Müller
ing in support of their research or preparation of (biomedart@haderermuller.com).
Amar S. Ranawat, MD this manuscript. One or more of the authors
Chitranjan S. Ranawat, MD received payments or other benefits or a commit- doi:10.2106/JBJS.E.00308
Mark Elkus, MD ment or agreement to provide such benefits from a
Vijay J. Rasquinha, MD commercial entity (C.S. Ranawat is a consultant
Roberto Rossi, MD for DePuy). No commercial entity paid or directed, REFERENCES
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