The Functional Status of the ACL in Varus OA of the Knee: The Association With Varus Deformity and Coronal Tibiofemoral Subluxation

  • BACKGROUND: The present article analyzes the association of the functional anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) status and the overall varus deformity and coronal tibiofemoral subluxation (CTFS) in varus OA of the knee.

    METHODS: One hundred consecutive knees with varus OA in 84 patients were prospectively included. Knees were divided into two groups, in accordance with the ACL status (functionally sufficient or insufficient). All included patients were potential candidates for unicompartmental knee arthroplasty with predominantly medial compartment OA. Knees with Kellgren/Lawrence ≥ grade 3 in the lateral compartment were excluded leaving 79 knees to be included in this study. Mechanical varus deformity and CTFS were evaluated on AP radiographs and valgus stress radiographs, and compared between the two groups.

    RESULTS: Knees with a functionally insufficient ACL had significantly more varus deformity on hip-to-ankle AP standing radiographs (P = .001) and on valgus stress radiographs (P = .017). CTFS on AP standing radiographs was significantly higher (P = .045) in knees with a functionally insufficient ACL. Seventy-three percent (8/11) of the ACL-insufficient knees had a varus deformity of ≥10° and 64% (7/11) of ACL-insufficient knees had CTFS ≥ 6mm. By contrast, only one patient (2%, 1/41) with an insufficient ACL had< 10° varus deformity and a CTFS of < 6mm.

    CONCLUSION: Functional ACL insufficiency in osteoarthritic varus knees is associated with greater varus deformity and more advanced CTFS. Seventy-three percent of ACL-insufficient knees had a varus deformity of ≥10° and 64% of ACL-insufficient knees a CTFS of ≥ 6mm. In the work-up for medial unicompartmental knee arthroplasty, functional ACL insufficiency is likely in knees with varus deformity of ≥10° and CTFS of ≥ 6mm.

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