Varus deformity in the proximal tibia and immediate postoperative varus alignment result in varus progression in limb alignment in the long term after total knee arthroplasty

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The aim of this study was to examine and evaluate the factors associated with changes in limb alignment 10 years after total knee arthroplasty (TKA). The hypothesis was that bone morphology and immediate postoperative alignment could be correlated with long-term post-operative alignment changes following TKA.


This study retrospectively analysed 136 consecutive primary TKA cases for varus deformity, performed from 2006 to 2008, that could be followed for at least 10 years postoperatively. Anteroposterior long-leg weight-bearing radiographs were obtained within 1 month and at least 10 years after surgery. The hip–knee–ankle (HKA) angle immediately after surgery was compared with that 10 years later; factors correlating with the change in HKA angle (δHKA) were evaluated.


The mean HKA angles were significantly different between immediate and long-term postoperative assessments (0.1° ± 1.9° vs. 1.2° ± 2.9°, p < 0.001). Furthermore, a significant difference was observed in the outlier ratio (> 3° deviation from the 0° of HKA angle) (10% vs. 24%, p = 0.002). δHKA strongly correlated with a higher preoperative tibial plateau tip-to-proximal tibial shaft (TPTPS) angle, higher postoperative HKA angle, lateral distal femoral angle, and lower postoperative medial proximal tibial angle.


Varus deformity in the proximal part of the tibia, immediate postoperative varus alignment, and varus position of the femoral and tibial components may lead to varus progression in limb alignment in the long term, even 10 years after TKA; the surgeon should, therefore, weigh the risks of leaving a varus alignment during surgery. Moreover, if the preoperative TPTPS angle is high, the alignment may become varus after TKA, even in patients who have acquired neutral alignment.

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Correspondence to Tomoyuki Matsumoto.

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The authors have no conflict of interests to declare.

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This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the authors’ affiliated institutions (identification number: 1510).

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Informed consent was obtained from all patients.

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Kuroda, Y., Takayama, K., Hayashi, S. et al. Varus deformity in the proximal tibia and immediate postoperative varus alignment result in varus progression in limb alignment in the long term after total knee arthroplasty. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc (2020) doi:10.1007/s00167-019-05841-4

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  • Total knee arthroplasty
  • Long-term outcome
  • Alignment
  • Morphology
  • Varus