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Research Article

A new method to measure ligament balancing in total knee arthroplasty: laxity measurements in 100 knees


BackgroundLigament balancing is considered a prerequisite for good function and survival in total knee arthroplasty (TKA). However, there is no consensus on how to measure ligament balance intra-operatively and the degree of stability obtained after different balancing techniques is not clarified.PurposeThis study presents a new method to measure ligament balancing in TKA and reports on the results of a try-out of this method and its inter-observer reliability.MethodsAfter the implantation of the prosthesis, spatulas of different thickness were used to measure medial and lateral condylar lift-off in flexion and extension in 70 ligament-balanced knees and in 30 knees were ligament balancing was considered unnecessary. Inter-observer reliability for the new method was estimated and the degree of medial–lateral symmetry in extension and in flexion, and the equality of the extension gaps and flexion gaps were calculated.ResultsThe method was feasible in all operated knees, and found to be very reliable (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.88). We found no statistically significant difference in condylar lift-off between the ligament-balanced and the non ligament-balanced group, however, there was a tendency to more outliers in flexion in the ligament-balanced group.ConclusionsOur method for measuring ligament balance is reliable and provides valuable information in assessing laxity intra-operatively. This method may be a useful tool in further research on the relationship between ligament balance, function and survival of TKA.