Undersizing the Tibial Baseplate in Cementless Total Knee Arthroplasty has Only a Small Impact on Bone-Implant Interaction: A Finite Element Biomechanical Study

Published:October 21, 2022DOI:



      The tibial component in total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is often chosen to maximize coverage of the tibial cut, which can result in excessive internal rotation of the component. Optimal rotational alignment may require a smaller baseplate with suboptimal coverage that could threaten fixation. We asked: “does undersizing the tibial component of a cementless TKA to gain external rotation increase the risk of bone failure?”


      We developed computational finite element (FE) analysis models from the computed tomography (CT) scans of 12 patients scheduled for primary TKA. The models were implanted with a cementless tibial baseplate that maximized coverage and one or two sizes smaller and externally rotated by 5°. We calculated the risk of bone collapse under loads representative of stair ascent.


      Undersizing the implant increased the area at risk of collapse for eight patients. However, the area at risk of collapse for the undersized implant (range, 5.2%-16.4%) was no different (P = .24) to the optimally sized implant (range, 4.5%-17.9%). The bone at risk of collapse was concentrated along the posterior edge of the implant. The area at risk of collapse was not proportional to implant size, and for four subjects undersizing the implant actually decreased the area at risk of collapse.


      While implants should maximize coverage of the tibial cut and seek support on dense bone, undersizing the tibial component to gain external rotation had minimal impact on the load transfer to the underlying bone. This FE analysis model of a cementless tibial baseplate may require further validation and additional studies to investigate the long-term biomechanical effects of undersizing the tibial baseplate. In conclusion, while surgeons should strive to use the appropriate tibial baseplate for each patient, our model identified only minor biomechanical consequences of undersizing the implant for the immediate postoperative bone-implant interaction and implant subsidence.


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