A whole leg radiograph is not necessary for postoperative determination of the mechanical leg axis after total knee arthroplasty

  • Nina PerkaEmail author
  • Sebastian Kopf
  • Hagen Hommel
Knee Arthroplasty



Anteroposterior (AP) whole leg radiographs (WLR) in the standing position for assessment of the mechanical leg axis are generally performed preoperatively for the planning of total knee replacement (TKR) and postoperatively to assess the leg axis. The objective of the present study was to investigate whether, if preoperative WLR are available, postoperative AP standard knee radiographs in the standing position are sufficient for calculating the mechanical leg axis.


In the present prospective study, the mechanical and the anatomical leg axes were determined on the basis of WLR from 104 patients prior to implantation of a TKR and the difference was calculated. Twelve weeks postoperatively, standing long AP radiographs and WLR were prepared. In addition, the mechanical axis was calculated by adding the preoperative difference between the anatomical and mechanical axis to the anatomical axis from the postoperative AP radiographs. Accuracy, bias and level of agreement for calculated relative to measured mechanical alignment were determined.


Mean accuracy of calculated mechanical alignment was 0.5° ± 0.4°, and mean bias was 0.0° ± 0.6° (p = 1.00). Bland–Altman analysis revealed a 95% upper and lower level of agreement of − 1.3° and 1.3°, respectively.


A preoperative WLR and a postoperative long AP knee standard radiograph are sufficient to determine the mechanical leg axis after TKR. If these are available, it is possible to do without WLR after TKR, particularly since they involve higher radiation exposure, are time-consuming, and are also prone to errors in the first postoperative weeks.

Level of evidence

II diagnostic study.


Total knee arthroplasty Radiography Whole leg axis image Mechanical leg axis 



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical SchoolUniversitätsklinikum BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Center of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Medical School Theodor FontaneHospital Brandenburg an der HavelBrandenburgGermany
  3. 3.Clinic for Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine and RehabilitationHospital Märkisch-Oderland GmbHWriezenGermany
  4. 4.Medical School Theodor FontaneNeuruppinGermany

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